Focus of Newsletter: Land Issues and Farming
Bheki is a farm kid, his grandparents and parents all worked as labourers on a farm near Mooi River. Bheki attended the local primary school, but as there were not funds for him to go to the secondary school in the next town, he began to work on the farm too. After three years he had learnt a lot about farming, but he had also learnt that being a farm labourer was not a job for a young man wanting to go places, so he took his savings and put himself through grade 12 at KwaDlamini Secondary School. He then worked for three years as a stipend paid educator for Masfunsane on their functional adult literacy programme.
As a result of a land claim the workers on the farm where Bheki grew up came to own the land. The decision was taken to lease the land, however this did not go well so by the time Bheki was elected as the Chairperson of the Guguletu Trust in 2012, the land and the equipment had been abused and the lease remained unpaid. After a legal battle the community families moved back onto the land but realised they would need help to re-develop the land. Bheki successfully gained a 3 year mentorship contract with Techno Serve, an American grant maker. He also negotiated contracts to supply Shoprite, Spar and Woolworths with lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower. The donor contract began in March 2014 having been negotiated during the previous year. The farming is going very well, with the co-operative members working hard and the first income banked in the Trust account.
Bheki has many dreams, in the short term he wants to gain the skills for packing their own product (which is currently outsourced). In the medium term he wants to save enough funds and gain financial knowledge so that at the end of the 3 years contract with TechoServe the farm will be sustainable. And in the long term he wants all the members of the cooperative to develop a “we can do this ourselves” attitude which will lead to them building their own formal homes, empowering themselves with knowledge and most importantly for the youth to see farming as a viable and exciting career choice. And finally he dreams of a food secure South Africa to which his cooperative contributes significantly.
Gene 3:23 "Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken".
The KZNCC have embarked upon a project which aims to turn fallow church land all over KZN into productive mini co-operative farms, by training unemployed Christians from the local church to profitably grow and harvest suitable fresh produce for sale at farm gate prices primarily to the church community.
The rains have eventually come – having had an extremely dry winter and spring – the soils are ready to be planted with vegetables. The lands are going to have to be hand-howed due to the terrain of the land and the odd stump that would make tractor cultivation impossible at this point. We hope that the vegetables will be ready by December – in time for the Christmas festivities.
The pigs have adjusted well to their new out-door environment. The Coop members have named the Boar “King Douglas”. I am sure he is going to be a point of much discussion – in the reports to come.
The strategy for the farm was to create a revenue stream as soon as possible. Our first two batches of chickens have been slaughtered. The proof is in the eating – Reverend Ntuli – was deservedly our first customer – asked how they tasted he replied “best ever”!
Ducks have been added to the operation – to also gain alternative revenue streams.
The second track of land is in Applesbosch. It is funded by a Dutch funder ICCO and by the Provincial Department of Agriculture.
The coop members are busy clearing the arable land. Fencing material has been delivered to the farm by the Department of Agriculture. The area which is to be irrigated has been demarcated for fencing first. The lime is at the Allerton store waiting delivery. It will be incorporated when the lands are ploughed. Fertilizer for the 2 ha of green mielies has arrived, however the price increase of 15% was not in the original quotation so we are awaiting authority to proceed. A request to the Department of Agriculture for irrigation equipment has been submitted and is awaiting an order as the site visit has already been completed.
Mr Jeffrey’s reports that the coop members are enthusiastic and that the success of the project rests mainly with them. Further as Mr Jeffrey is retiring soon, Mr WM Ndlovu the extension officer for the area should be considered an excellent contact person to work closely with in the future.
Here is our draft logo for the farm produce, note the KZNCC endorsement in the right-hand corner
WHERE TO NEXT…..
Human Rights in Action
The Land Issues Sub-committee of KZNCC deals with all manner of injustice relating to the access to land. Abahlali baseMjondolo (Shack Dwellers of South Africa) attended the last meeting despite their recent bereavement. They were very distressed about the passing of the Chairperson Thuli Ndlovu and explained there concerns as follows:
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Thuli Ndlovu, the Abahlali baseMjondolo Chairperson in KwaNdengezi, was Assassinated last Night
Between half past six and seven last night an armed man burst into Thuli Ndlovu’s home in KwaNdengezi while she was watching TV. He shot her seven times and she died on the scene. There were two other people in the house at the time. One was Sphe Madlala, an 18 year old neighbour. He finished matric last year and did very well in physics and maths. Our movement has been trying to help him to get into university. He had come to the house to help Thuli’s 17 year old daughter, Sli, with her matric studies in maths and science. Sphe was also shot twice in the stomach but he survived. He underwent surgery at RK Khan Hospital at one this morning and remains in a critical condition. Thuli’s one year old son, Freedom, was also in the house at the time of the shooting. He was not physically harmed. Sli was in a separate outside room with her grandmother at the time of the shooting.
Quoting from an article in the Daily Maverick written by Daneel Knoetze for GROUNDUP 2/10/2014
“In a substantial press statement by AbM on Tuesday evening, the movement named a local ANC ward councillor as a suspect in ordering the killing, placing him at the scene an hour before Ndlovu was shot. His presence intimidated Ndlovu, AbM said, and she apparently told her mother, who was also present at her home, that "today we are going to be shot".
The movement explained the discord between the KwaNdengezi community and the local councillor as stretching back to 2010. AbM said the implementation of an RDP housing project in the area under the direction of the councillor had been corrupt, had been done without community consultation, had infringed on land settled by the original shackdwelling community and had desecrated family graves.
In response the community had launched a branch of AbM - a shackdwellers movement which mobilises against corrupt housing allocation and illegal evictions - in November 2012. Since then, the movement's members had been subject to intimidation, death threats and gunshots, Wednesday's statement said.
"Our movement is shocked but not surprised. We have accepted that some of us will die in this struggle. We are well aware that our leaders have been removed from the housing list and placed on the death lists. Many of us have received threats. We knew that another assassination was coming... Senior police officers were also aware that another assassination was coming. They have done nothing to give protection to our members."
The KZNCC has provided a “Healing of Memories” workshop for the extended family and effected community members. Please join us in praying for Abahlali baseMjondolo
Dear heavenly Father,
We thank you that You formed the world, created light and that You are the light of the world,
You surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses of faith,
You are strengthening us in our faith in that You accepted Abel’s sacrifice, although he had to suffer,
You saved Noah and all in the ark because against all odds he set his eyes on you,
You gave Your promise and inheritance to ordinary people like Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Jacob, Joseph and his children;
You strengthened the feeble faith of Moses to lead Your people from bondage into freedom, through sea and desert into the promised land.
You set judges, prophets and leaders as an example of those who were willing to suffer for Your cause even in trials and temptations;
We fix our eyes in faith on Your Son, Jesus Christ, who obediently endured shame, cross, death and hell for our sake,
Who was raised in victory and sat down at the right hand of Your throne to rule our lives.
We remember Your words of encouragement that addresses us as sons and daughters,
Let us, even in trying times, throw off everything that hinders us and sinful thoughts that so easily entangles us,
Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us endure hardship as Your disciples, so that we can support righteousness and peace,
Strengthen our feeble arms and weak knees.
Make level paths for our feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather be healed.
Let us make every effort to live in peace with all people and according to Your holy will;
Let none of us miss Your grace and let no bitter root grow among us.
We are in your hands that gives us strength;
We are in your sight that gives us courage;
We are in your heart that gives us comfort.
This we ask through Jesus Christ, your Son and through your Holy Spirit. Amen
(Based on Hebrews 11-12)
provided by Rev Georg Scriba
KZNCC has many injustices reported to the Land issues committee, who investigate allegations such as reported by the Members of 'Nkosi vuka Nathi Trust' Committee representing the Nkwalini Landless People fighting against eviction of local communities to give way to investors wanting the land for mining coal and iron-ore. (Fourth from left is our KRCC office coordinator Mrs Sthembile Sibiya and (in blue) is the Headman, Mr Zulu. This was at a committee meeting at the Headman’s home to discuss strategies of lobbying and advocacy to stop eviction of 319 families from their land, with each family promised a compensation of R 2149 to move away to somewhere.
The Landless People’s Movement is also a member of the Land issues sub-committee. They were established in 2001 with the aim of addressing illegal evictions, illegal impounding, the abuse of widows and youth, discrimination and racism and improving the economic empowerment of the landless people.
Many challenges have arisen over the past 13 years. Most of these challenges relate to the legislation regarding land redistribution, impounding and burial rights and the implementation of these Acts. The main challenges are the lack of recourses which limits the movement’s ability to take up issues. The redistribution of land is too slow and the land reform system in not fully functional.
The KZNCC has played an important role in funding meetings, organising dialogues between stakeholders and providing support on court cases.
Then KZNCC and its partners have decided to record the many and various cases they have worked with through the Land Issues Dialogue Programme. This book is in the final stages of preparation by Lucas Ngoetjana and Philippe Denis and is called
Voices of farmers, landless people and land movements in KwaZulu-Natal
We will let you know as soon as the book is available as it is full of interesting case studies and records the experiences of all stakeholders. We are able to bring you a snippet to whet your appetite, so here is the section on the RECOMMENDATIONS:
In the light of above, I propose that the following issues need to be addressed in a church based statement on land:
- Encouraging EKZNW to protect the biodiversity of this province and finding people solutions that will balance the needs of surrounding communities, without watering down the protection plans of these vulnerable areas. We praise God for the beauty of this province
- Encouraging all workers of the land, being subsistence farmers and commercial farmers, to remember that the land is a gift from God and needs to be protected and cared for at all times.
- Reminding the Ingonyama Trust that they manage a substantial big portion of this province and encourages the development of scientific more profit generating food production that will contribute to the need for food in the cities. We also encourage the Ingonyama Trust to explore ways in which to develop traditional Zulu foods in being commercially profitably sold in the cities.
- Reminding the government that land needs are not a political tool that can be abused for personal and party political gain. The land is a gift of God.
Commercial farming is one of our treasures ensuring food security nationally. Commercial farming is an asset to this province. But commercial farms are reminded that greed will increase the gap between rich and poor, enhancing the colonial discomfort and tension between commercial farmers and the poor. We see a Christian responsible way in managing this gap in healthy mentorship programs between commercial farmers and upcoming farmers.
The land belongs to all. The right to own land is not a given, it is an opportunity coming with great responsibility towards the whole community. Land needs to be used in a responsible way. It needs to be shared in a responsible way. Agricultural skill training is needed desperately in order to be responsible stewards of the land. Twenty years after apartheid we need to look at African ways of managing, owning, farming and working the land, taking from the colonial era what is good, building it into a strong viable economic asset to all.
And the (Shortened) Conculsion
Making a difference through networking, advocacy and dialogue
Under the impulse of the KZNCC Land Matters Project partners and stakeholders regularly participate in policy forums such as the parliamentary portfolio committees on land, labour and agriculture in the national and provincial Parliaments. Social movements and community leaders are empowered to debate on land matters in these portfolio committees. Church leaders participate in platforms such as the land summits where land issues are discussed. KZNCC has been able to obtain the participation of partners such as the Church Leaders’ Group, land-related NGOs, farmers and the Provincial Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and the Provincial Department of Agriculture.
The KZNCC Land Matters Programme has developed partnerships with organisations which enabled KZNCC to harness a wide range of voices on the complex issues of land in South Africa. The positions of farmers, farmworkers, government, organised agri-business, social movements and church leaders have been tabled for discussion in quest of sustainable solutions to landlessness, poor government land policies, abuse of human rights in farms, murders, land grabbing, forced removals and evictions, land invasions and lack of significant support by government to people allocated land.
KZNCC has engaged the Provincial Parliament, which in turn has been steadily discussing land issues with church leaders and civil society leaders at various levels. Lobbying and advocacy is taking place at Parliament portfolio committees of land and agriculture, in the public galleries during Parliament sittings, at Cabinet meetings and at private meetings with the Premier of the province. Structured and systematic training on lobbying and advocacy enabled members of participating organizations to be better informed on their rights and engage on the use of the roundtable dialogue methodology as a tool for addressing land issues in KwaZulu-Natal. KZNCC has long advocated for the usage of dialogue to resolve challenges on land matters.
The roundtable dialogues have been a successful model when issues calling for mutual engagement between farmers and farm owners, on one hand, and farm workers and farm dwellers, on the other hand, emerge.
Theological reflections have equipped participants in contextual theological hermeneutics to interpret the Bible for themselves through their own experiences in the situations in which they find themselves. KZNCC has been successful in creating space for churches and communities to have theological discussions on land matters. By so doing the churches and communities could make a connection between their faith and spirituality with the land question.
The provincial steering committee is stronger than before. It now includes farmers’ organizations and government departments of agriculture and land affairs. The Land Matters Programme of KZNCC is doing lobbying and advocacy to the National and Provincial Legislatures and presentations in the Peoples’ Parliament and the All Africa Parliament. Despite lack of funding, the Landless People's Movement has been able, with the help of KZNCC, to become operational and hold regular meetings to plan and design strategies and plan actions.
In conclusion, the programme has allowed the various stakeholders to work together in seeking solution to the problems of the land. It has served as a safe platform for poor people to express their views, fears and aspirations. In many ways it has made a difference in their lives. Government departments have started to engage farmers and farm dwellers on land issues. Church leaders have been galvanized and now look at the land issue with new eyes. A synergy has been created and the call for justice has been amplified.
If you and your church are not involved in this successful initiative contact Rev Ntuli to get the notice of the next meeting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dates for the Diary
9 th December:
Time: 9-1pm Land Matters provincial Summit at Vuleka Trust in Botha’s Hills.
10 th December
VICOBA Consultation Financial literacy and Savings club training at Sweetwaters.