In April Spek Molebatsi was named Farmworker of the Year for Limpopo’s Lephalale district. The Farmworker of the Year initiative originated with the district’s organised agricultural forum, during which the area representatives of Agri SA, TAU SA and Nafu regularly meet with the regional Department of Agriculture representatives to discuss agricultural matters.
The event is only the second of its kind in the country. As Agri Lephalale’s Elana Greyling explains, “felt that there are so many external factors – such as ESTA legislation, minimum wage legislation and statements by politicians – that impact negatively on relationships between farmers and their workers, with the workers often paying the price of this politicking.” She explained that farmers wanted to give their workers some recognition for their contribution to the sector, despite the challenges. As main sponsor of the event, Agri Lephalale volunteered to oversee the administrative side of the competition and organise the awards ceremony. To level the playing field for workers the judging process was divided into four farming categories: livestock, smallstock, crops, and game. Farmers had to complete nomination forms motivating their reasons for entering particular workers. “We were very impressed with the entries,” said Greyling. “Our final round of judging showed that farmers took the competition seriously.”
A panel of judges then visited the finalists on the farms where they work and interviewed them in Afrikaans and seTswana. winner was then chosen from five finalists. Sï¿½-adly, runner-up Moses Magongwa passed away from malaria a week before the awards ceremony, but his prize was still presented to his family. At the awards ceremony his employer, Willie Vos of Tomburke, delivered a moving eulogy in seTswana, which had everybody, including provincial MEC for agriculture Dikeledi Magadzi and Waterberg executive mayor Pinky Kekana, reaching for their handkerchiefs. W inner Molebatsi received R5 000 from Agri Lephalale, a DVD player from Russels, a travel case from Jeanne Fourie Makelaars, an overall from NTK and a framed certificate. Magongwa’s widow received his R2 500 cash prize and his travel case and certificate. he other three finalists each received cash prizes of between R1 000 and R500, a travel case, an overall and a framed certificate, while each of the other 25 entrants received a certificate for their participation. – Jasper Raats