February 2014 Newsletter

Introduction

This newsletter focuses on KZNCC’s land matters programme. Included in this newsletter is progress on interventions, issues, and workshops of the Healing of Memories and Reconciliation Programme.  Every bit of land needs to be used to improve the quality of life for all.  The  ‘ONE HOME, ONE FOOD GARDEN’ is a vision our former KZN Premier offered our beloved province.


Message by the Chairperson

The Durban North Methodist Church (DNMC) manse has a food garden that supplements vegetables for us and those who work here. The DNMC itself has very limited grounds and a grace garden has been planted without fencing and all are welcome to help themselves to what is growing (at the moment it is mielies).

Imagine if every house, shack, small holding, and rural home in KZN had a food garden. Imagine if every church had a grace garden.  Imagine if every church manse had a food garden.  Imagine no one going hungry in our province. The DNMC food garden proves that another world is possible; all it takes is willingness.  After all, is it not the will of God we need to align ourselves with? Listen to what Jesus of Nazareth says:  “… FOR WHEN I WAS HUNGRY AND YOU GAVE ME FOOD… Truly I tell, just as you did to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25: 35;40). God comes to us every day in the face of the hungry.  “IF A BROTHER OR SISTER IS NAKED AND LACKS DAILY FOOD, AND ONE OF YOU SAYS TO THEM, ‘GO IN PEACE; KEEP WARM AND EAT YOUR FILL,’ AND YET YOU DO NOT SUPPLY THEIR BODILY NEEDS, WHAT IS THE GOOD OF THAT?” (James 2: 15). When you have a grace garden, you can say to the hungry person: “Go and help yourself to as much as you need.” Better still, let us make real the vision of ‘one home, one garden’ and restore dignity to all in the process. Let us all come together and become a willing community.

Peace and Blessings.

Shalom Bishop Mike


 

The Land Issues Programme is Divided into Two

The first component pertains to issues of policies and human rights in relation to land issues. The KZNCC plays a proactive role in assisting the land stakeholders in finding solutions together.  The second dimension involves farming projects on land that has been made available to KZNCC for utilisation in conjunction with the communities where the farms are located. The community at Appelsbosch is making an application to become a farming NGO.


 

KZNCC'S Involvement in Healing of Memories:

KZNCC, through its regional formations, facilitates constructive dialogue between farmers and farm workers / dwellers. This also promotes healing and reconciliation through a process called ‘Healing of Memories and Reconciliation’ on land issues. Healing of memories sessions first took place at Melmoth; the second and third sessions were held at Pax Christie in Newcastle. The participants at these sessions were farm workers and farm dwellers who have experienced trauma in their lives. The last healing of memories session involved refugees, who have also experienced trauma in their lives. The Institute of Healing of Memories serves as a facilitator in all of these events.


 

Policy, Justice and Human Rights

KZNCC is   engaged in the issues of policy relating to justice and human rights. Farm workers / dwellers are especially affected by injustices levelled against them by the farmers. As a result, KZNCC has intervened on various farms throughout KZN through our regional offices. The KwaZulu Regional Christian Council catering for Uthungulu, Umkhanyakude and Zululand Districts has engaged farmers and farm workers to try and resolve issues affecting both parties. Through these engagements, it has become clear that it is not only farmers who miss the mark. The farm workers / dwellers also deliberately allow their livestock to be where they are not supposed to be.

Similar exercises have been done by the Tukela-Amajuba-Mzinyathi Christian Council, which caters for Uthukela, Amajuba and Umzinyathi Districts, as well as the Southern KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council catering for Sisonke and Ugu Districts. Most issues dealt with so far include issues of salaries, violation of human rights of farm workers / dwellers, unfair distribution of work load, as well as inhumane living conditions. Some of these issues, especially salaries issues, were negotiated successfully. More serious cases involve evictions of farm dwellers and the demolition of their houses, as has happened in Estcourt, Vryheid and other places. Some of these traumatic experiences have resulted in the death of individuals, as in the case of Escourt where Mrs Shalazile Ndlovu died of a heart attack and was buried on the farm.


Demolished houses in Estcourt


Left - The Natal Witness Newspaper article.
Right - Burial of Mrs Shalazile Ndlovu


 

Steering Committee on Land Matters

Steering Committee meetings on land issues (which take place bi-monthly) have been conducted in February, April, June, August and October, where scriptural reflections (evoking lively discussions) and other issues specifically relating to land issues and government policies have been tackled. Also, various structures like the Landless People’s Movement (LPM), Rural Women’s Movement (RWM), Rural Network (RuN), farmers, and regional partners of KZNCC have made inputs relating to the work they are doing.

The work done by the Provincial Steering Committee on Land Issues culminated in the SADC Land Summit, which took place St Philomena in Durban from the 16th – 18th October 2013. The following SADC countries were invited: Botswana, Zimbabwe, Angola, DR Congo, Zambia, Mozambique and Madagascar. Important decisions relating to the way forward were taken at this Summit.  A follow-up meeting involving a SADC sub-committee consisting of Botswana, Zambia and South Africa took place in Pretoria from the 18th – 21st November 2013.

 


 

Participation of the Government Departments

The Departments of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Affairs and of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs have played a huge role by deploying engineers   to the farms of Appelsbosch and Bishopstowe to assess the farms. Recommendations have been made that will help in the proper implementation of the farming projects. Not only are they helping with technical support; they have also promised much material support.

 


 

Trips Undertaken

Trips have also been undertaken to Mandeni and Pinetown to look at the greenhouses and tunnels which are used for intensive farming.

On the 21st May 2013, a KZNCC delegation went to the South Coast, St Faiths, to view a farm given to KZNCC by the United Congregational Church of Sothern Africa (UCCSA), the extent of which is 10 acres. The delegation met with the UCCSA Saint Faiths Council members to discuss the following issues:

  • Food security
  • Possibility of job creation
  • Commercial farming
  • Sustainability of the project


Left - St Faiths plot which is 10 acres.
Right - Members of UCCSA St Faiths Council


 

News from Rural Network – KZN

Rural Network SA is the organisation formed by different communities covering Pongola, Mtubatuba, Eshowe, Melmoth, Njobokazi, Rosboom, Howick, Utrecht and Masangweni under Empangeni. We stand for all land matters and gender justice.  We ensure, through the help of our funders, that we give our community members the opportunity to develop themselves through the University of KZN. The communities are informed that we stand for land rights and justice.

We strongly believe in seeing our people taking the lead in their land struggle, regardless of gender and age. We let those who suffer pain talk about it and attempt to work it out themselves. We consult the courts if necessary so that the judiciary plays a role where we see injustice. We have immense hope for success in the future because we are able to sit around the table with farmers who see no reason to undermine the voice of the poor. This makes it possible to fulfil the calling endowed on us by God to be the prophetic voice of the nation.

 

RURAL WOMEN'S MOVEMENT

The Rural Women’s Movement held a launch of the UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality at Mathafeni Community Hall (uGu District - Umzumbe) on the 23 March 2013. The KZNCC participated, since we are in partnership with the movement. This was a grand affair with representatives from the Premier’s office, the UN desk in Johannesburg and from most of KwaZulu-Natal.

RWM is also busy trying to solve the water issue in Underberg. In addition to this, 750 women in Sisonke municipality are training people on how to run businesses.


Rural Women's event at Umzumbe's Mathafeni Hall

RWM is also busy trying to solve the water issue in Underberg. In addition to this, 750 women in Sisonke municipality are training people on how to run businesses.

LANDLESS PEOPLE'S MOVEMENT

The Estcourt issue, where families were evicted, is awaiting the land court’s decision. The farmer at Hilton farm, whose workers complained of indecent living conditions and the abuse of human rights, has sold his farm. The government Portfolio Committee was prevented by the famer from conducting investigations on his farm relating to violation of farm workers' rights, as well as the decomposed bodies which were found on his farm. Lastly, on the issue of leases, the lessee pays R1 per year for a period of 5 to 10 year lease.

THEOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

This exciting interdisciplinary programme envisions the increased capacity of Christian leadership in Africa to reflect on and be engaged in social transformation for the public good.

  • A programme of choice for African theological scholarship
  • Critical reflection on issues in development
  • Postgraduate degrees: BTh (Hons), MTh, PhD
  • Dynamic classes & cutting-edge research
  • Expertise for leadership in the church, academy & society

Applications to study in 2014 are open, until 31 October 2013. A limited number of bursaries are available based on academic merit & promise.

Enquiries:
Director: 
Dr Clint Le Bruyns

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