Remaining at the margins: Case study of farmworkers in the North West Province, South Africa

Stefanie Lemke, F. Jansen van Rensburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


This article explores living conditions, livelihoods and prospects of farmworkers with regard to land reform legislation. Research was conducted from 2004 to 2010 on four farms in the North West Province, interviewing farmworkers and farm owners. Representatives of the agricultural union Agri North West and land analysts were interviewed to obtain their perspective on farm labour. Despite protective legislation, farmworkers' living and working conditions have deteriorated. Farmworkers further lack alternative livelihood options, perpetuating their dependency on farm owners, who are the only ones providing services and some social security. Among the main barriers in the empowerment of farmworkers are limited insights regarding complex social relationships on farms, the challenge to address the specificity of power relations, and the marginalised position of farmworkers and their lack of agency in the broader political system. Both farmworkers and farm owners need support structures and strengthened institutional capacity to gradually change power dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-858
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopment Southern Africa
Issue number6
Early online date5 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • farm tenure reform
  • livelihoods
  • marginalisation
  • rights

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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