Land: Call for moratorium on evictions until after Parly process is complete

2018-10-26 05:20
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Almost 20 000 farmworkers in the Drakenstein area could be evicted if the courts grant eviction orders in more than 1 000 cases on the roll, MPs heard on Thursday.

In their submission to MPs in Parliament's Constitutional Review Committee on Thursday, the organisation Women on Farms Project (WFP) shone the spotlight on evictions and landlessness in the farmworker community.

WFP is among those supporting an "explicit and unambiguous" provision allowing land expropriation without compensation. The organisation also called for a moratorium on all farm evictions, pending the finalisation of the legislative process.

WFP director Colette Solomon told MPs there were mass evictions of farmworkers.

"Farm land are being rezoned and transformed into luxury housing developments with consequences including farmworkers that are often evicted in the process and prime agricultural land is lost to these luxury developments."

Food security 

She also alluded to the possible implications for food security. "In some areas, like Simondeum and Franschhoek, these developments are leading to an entire valley becoming white as farm workers are moved from farms and replaced by people who can afford multimillion-rand homes."

Solomon also dismissed the praise often given to shared equity schemes on farms. "When people say farmworkers are finding redress under the land reform programme, many refer to the shared equity schemes," she said. "It is important to note however, these farmworkers often have shares in the business part of the farm and do not have security of tenure. Land rights are also not conferred on farmworkers."

Solomon said her organisation dealt with many eviction cases of female farmworkers who were also shareholders. "At the same time there are farmers that continue to consolidate farms with some owning up to 10 or 15 farms in areas like Wellington and Rawsonville," she told MPs.

"So, on the one hand there are mass evictions of farmworkers and municipalities without land to accommodate these people. Then there are white commercial farmers with increasing numbers of farm land and who do not show willingness to give up any of the land they have," she claimed.

Moral and economic claim to the land

Farmworkers had not a moral claim but also an economic claim to the land, she argued.

"Their moral claim is through generations of blood and sweat and contribution to agriculture in this country and specifically the Western Cape," she said.

She also called for meaningful engagement and consultation with women living on farms.

In response to MPs' questions, director for WFP's land and housing programme, Carmen Louw, hinted at instituting land ceilings. Louw said consolidation of farms could not be allowed while there were so many people without land.

The organisation Azapo also called for restrictions on land in its presentation, and called on Parliament to expunge Section 25 of the Constitution.

Azapo president Strike Thokoane said, given the country's housing problems where entire families were homeless, Parliament should consider passing a law that restricts ownership to only two houses or properties.

The public hearings are expected to continue on Friday.

Read more on:    cape town  |  land  |  land expropriation  |  land hearings
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