JOHANNESBURG, June 3 South Africa's union
movement and farming groups attacked new agriculture minister
Senzeni Zokwana on Tuesday after reports he was paying a
labourer 800 rand ($75) a month, a third of the mininum farming
wage, to tend cattle.
The City Press newspaper also said 21-year-old Vuyolwethu
Ndabambi was working seven days a week for Zokwana, an ex-mining
union leader and senior Communist Party member who became
agriculture minister last week.
Working without a day off is another violation of South
Africa's labour laws.
"We call on Comrade Senzeni Zokwana and indeed all those who
have employed workers, including domestic workers, to lead by
example and pay their workers the minimum wages," the powerful
COSATU trade union federation said in a statement.
Opposition parties have targeted Zokwana and deputy farming
minister Bheki Cele, an ex-police chief infamous for encouraging
officers to "shoot to kill" criminals at the soccer World Cup in
2010, as examples of President Jacob Zuma appointing ministers
for their loyalty rather than talent or expertise.
Zokwana did not answer his mobile phone or respond to a
Reuters text message requesting comment.
City Press quoted him as saying: "I am paying that boy who
works there, who is also a neighbour, 800 rand for looking after
my cattle. He was previously unemployed and at least now he can
put food on the table."
Spokesmen for the agriculture and labour ministries were
also unavailable for comment.
AfriForum, a group representing mainly white farmers,
accused the ruling African National Congress of double standards
for frequently accusing the farming sector of underpaying
"The insinuation is made often and in public that violence
in rural areas can be ascribed to racism because 'white farmers'
underpay and abuse their workers on a grand scale," AfriForum
deputy chief executive Ernst Roets said.
"Senior ANC officials are guilty of the very offence of
which the farmers are accused," he added.
($1 = 10.6507 South African Rand)
(Reporting by Ed Cropley; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)