Submission

To: The Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform

From: Tshintsha Amakhaya

Re: A call for a moratorium to ban all farm evictions

 

30 January 2019

 

Contact Details:

Sobantu Mzwakali

Tshintsha Amakhaya

266 Lower Main Road

Salt River

Cape Town

Tel: 021 447 5096

Email: mzwakali@spp.org.za

 

  1. Introduction
    • Tshintsha Amakhaya is an alliance of ten civil society organizations that support local community struggles in land and agrarian reform in rural South Africa. Our constituencies are farm workers, farm dwellers, former labour tenants, land restitution beneficiaries, small-scale farmers in communal areas and those farming on commonage land. The alliance focuses on three strategic areas; (i) building critical consciousness, (ii) movement building and campaigns and (iii) policy advocacy and litigation.

 

  • We welcome the opportunity to make a submission per an invitation by Dr Vuyo Mahlati, a chairperson of the Experts Advisory Panel on Land Reform – expressed at Land Reform Colloquium convened by the panel on the 7th of December 2018 at Boksburg, Gauteng. We further express our request to make a verbal submission or participate in any meaningful engagements with the panel when an opportunity arises.

 

  1. Background

Today, over 20 000 people are threatened by farm evictions in the Western Cape with Drakenstein Municipality having a case load of 1,127 pending eviction matters.

The call for a moratorium on evictions has been on the agenda of farm dwellers, including labour tenants, for more than a decade. Any area of work, including the presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform, wanting to find solutions for the land reform programme – should include a moratorium on farm evictions.

More important, this round of evictions – happening at large scale – is closely linked to the talks about expropriation of land without compensation and evictions that took place in 1997 when Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA) was adopted.

There is a historical continuity that should be put into perspective: whenever there is an announcement that has possibilities of restructuring the existing but skewed agricultural sector, land holding and labour relations – white commercial farmers and landowners respond by evicting people.

We, as Tshintsha Amakhaya, are calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to keep his promise following an announcement he made in Paarl in 2014 that there will be a moratorium as an immediate ban on legal and illegal farm evictions.

Following the massive farm workers strike in the Doorns in 2012–2013 – speaking at the conclusion of a dialogue among stakeholders, including representatives from farming organisations, farmworkers, unions and ministers and officials of government departments while a deputy president – Ramaphosa said, “We are calling on all farmers who have plans for evictions to stop the evictions.” He further stated that a ban was an emergency measure to be “effective immediately”, and would remain in force until the following year when a follow-up meeting would be held to find “concrete solutions” to the problems facing the agriculture sector.  The moratorium never came to effect. Instead, instances of farm evictions and human rights violations on farms persist.

  1. What prompts a submission to this panel?

All attempts by activists and lobby groups of calling on Ramaphosa to implement the moratorium had not been successful. It is with this reason and the understanding of the panel’s proximity to South Africa’s office of presidency which spurred Tshintsha Amakhaya to write to the panel. Also, having participated at the two days colloquium where organisations were encouraged in the closing remarks by the chair of the panel to make any further inputs by submission. It is with all these reasons Tshintsha Amakhaya finds it appropriate to make this submission to the panel.

Tshintsha Amakhaya understands that the panel will submit its final report to the Presidency in March 2019.

 

  1. #NoToEvictions; a campaign call for a moratorium to ban all farm evictions

#NoToEvictions is the name of a campaign we have started following our national dialogue held from the 10th to 11th of May with all partners and local constituencies to discuss the National Assembly resolution to investigate whether a constitutional amendment should be considered to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation and, prepare participants for the coming constitutional review processes.

Our campaign was spurred by the news received at the dialogue that over 20 000 people are threatened by farm evictions. In our campaign, we call on president Cyril Ramaphosa to keep his promise following an announcement he made in Paarl in 2014 that there will be a moratorium as an immediate ban on legal and illegal farm evictions.

Here are important links to recent developments at Tshintsha Amakhaya (TA) regarding this campaign:

  1. A detailed report to our said dialogue on constitutional amendment and preparations for public hearing:
  1. An op-ed featured Daily Maverick that speaks to the use of existing legislation with provisions for TA’s constituencies, especially farm dwellers:

 

  • TA’s Western Cape Cluster activities covered in media:
  • Pickets and dialogues:

https://www.groundup.org.za/article/western-cape-could-be-testing-ground-land-expropriation-without-compensation-says-minister/   &        https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2018-05-31-our-rights-are-routinely-violated-by-farmers-say-frustrated-women-farmworkers/

 

  1. TA’s ‘draft’ moratorium handed to deputy minister Skwatsha:

https://amakhaya.org/2018/06/09/a-moratorium-to-stop-farm-evictions/

 

  1. TA’s Open Letter to President Ramphosa featured in the Daily Maverick
  1. An Online petition calling on President Ramaphosa to announce a moratorium to stop farm evictions:

 

  1. Call for a moratorium on farm evictions

The thousands of illegal evictions of farm workers and other farm dwellers continue to be evicted across the country despite the clear protections contained in the Extension of Security of Tenure Act 62 of 1997 (‘ESTA’) that a farm worker and persons living in the same dwelling as the worker may only be evicted:

  1. in terms of an order of the court
  2. once the court is satisfied that the eviction would be just and equitable
  3. And once the Land Claims Court has confirmed the order.

A moratorium on farm evictions should be imposed because of:

  • The great hardship, conflict and social instability caused by such evictions on a group of people already rendered vulnerable through their insecure tenure.
  • The disproportionate impact of these illegal evictions on women due to the commercial agricultural system that continues to confine women to an auxiliary labour category increasing their vulnerability to labour-related evictions.
  • The total system failure to protect the rights and security of farm workers and dwellers due to poor enforcement and resource endowment of ESTA;
  • The continued failure of municipalities to provide adequate alternative shelter as legislatively prescribed.
  • The Constitutional imperative, in section 25(6), to ensure that person whose tenure of land is legally insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices, like farm workers and other farm dwellers, are provided with either legally secure tenure or comparable redress.
  1. Conclusion

Both farm workers and dwellers should be prioritised and be at the forefront of cases on which expropriation without compensation will be tested.

Evictions bring great hardship, conflict and social instability. The failure to protect the rights and security of farm workers and dwellers due to poor enforcement of ESTA and the failure of municipalities to provide adequate alternative shelter as legislatively prescribed need to be addressed. We need to stand with those being evicted and demand that government responds to the cries of the people.

A moratorium is necessary to secure the tenure rights of all farm dwellers. They want an end to forced removals; the opportunity for long-term tenants to build structures; and for farm dwellers to be able to use the land they occupy for their own purposes.

We demand an immediate ban on all farm evictions in a formally signed moratorium which guarantees concessions to be awarded.

 

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