15 January 2016

South Africa: Government Should Expropriate the Land Away From Racist Farmers Who Violate the Laws of the Country

press release

The Congress of South African Trade Unions condemns the vile and racist attitude of a Mpumalanga farmer who said that he is not bound by the laws of this country. He said this reacting to a massive march by workers and community members , the reinstatement of more than three hundred (300) farm workers, who were dismissed.

They were dismissed after striking late last year demanding the recognition of the union of their choice by their employer. These puerile and infantile statements are an insult to those , who paid the ultimate price to fight the scourge of apartheid.

This big-headed and contemptible statement proves the depth of racism and arrogance by the apartheid beneficiaries in this country. It also highlights the ongoing racism that is directed at workers every day, especially in the agricultural sector in general and farming sector in particular. These farmers are emboldened by the knowledge that whatever they produce will be bought in this country because they are still the real owners of land and they dominate the economy.

The federation regards this as a declaration of war by this farmer and will reciprocate in kind. The 12th National Congress gave us a clear mandate that we need to organise the unorganised and we are not going to allow intransigence and racism , from some barbarian to stop us from recruiting those workers. We commit to relentlessly campaigning against racism and ensuring that we break its back in the workplace.

We are going to ensure that not only are the products of this farmer boycotted in Mpumalanga, but we are going to wage a serious blockade on that farm. We are calling on the department of labour and the provincial government to take drastic steps to stop the emergence of white supremacy in the province.

We are also calling on our government to take seriously the issue of land reform. We cannot continue to pander to the beneficiaries of the thieving apartheid system and allow them to defy our laws, brutalise and bully workers. We also demand a thorough investigation of the reports of collusion between this farmer and certain police officers in Mpumalanga. We cannot tolerate such reactionary and corrupt police officers to remain in the system.

The fact that this arrogant farmer has decided to employ mostly foreign workers, to replace the dismissed workers means that he cares very little about the social cohesion project that has been put in place to fight the scourge of xenophobia. The last round of xenophobic violence that took place in Durban was as a result of an employer , who dismissed local workers and replaced them with foreign workers. He is playing the poor against each other.

The employer's intransigent and blatant undermining of the constitution of this country and its laws means that he cannot enjoy the rights provided by the same constitution. We call on all South Africans to make a stand by boycotting his bananas and other products he produces. Government should expropriate the land away from this disloyal farmer. If he does not want to abide by the laws of this country, then he should not get protection from the same laws and also cannot own land in this country.

The battle against racist employers has only just begun and the federation will be leading from the front.

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