12 September 2018

South Africa: End Corruption and Nepotism in Land Redistribution Protesters Tell Government

Dozens of representatives from various rural and township organisations from across the country protested outside Parliament on Tuesday over land redistribution. They included farm workers, labour tenants, restitution claimants, people from mining-affected communities, people living under the Ingonyama Trust, members of the inner-city occupations in Cape Town, and others.

Under the umbrella of the Alliance for Rural Democracy they addressed a memorandum to the Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete, the Minister for Rural Development and Land Reform, the Chairperson of the Portfolio committee on Rural dDvelopment and Land Reform, and Chairperson of the Joint Committee on Constitutional review Vincent Smith.

The delegates wanted Smith and Mbete to address them. "We are not happy that Baleka can't address us. We feel disrespected and invisible," a protester, Constance Mogale, said.

Spokesperson for Alliance David Ramohane read the memorandum of demands. "We note the failure of land reform to meet the legitimate land needs of South Africans who were dispossessed under colonial and apartheid rule" and the "increasing capture of the land reform programme by elites, business and traditional leaders," he said. "We demand an end to corruption and nepotism in the allocation of land."

He said the organisation wants the government to dissolve the Ingonyama Trust, which owns 30% of KwaZulu-Natal in a trust chaired by Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu. "The Trust must stop violating the rights of people living on the land it administers," he said.

Secretary of the KZN Rural Network Mbhekiseni Mavuso said chiefs must not own the land that belongs to the people.

The memorandum calls for "a review of farm worker housing policy to ensure that farm workers enjoy decent living conditions and secure registered rights".

"We demand a moratorium on farm evictions, and an end to all BEE fronting through fake equity share agreements," said Ramohane.

The organisation wants the government to devise a clear strategy to deal with outstanding farm tenant claims. "Farms must be registered in the names of the people who actually work the land," he said.

Ramohane said 23 rural areas exist in the Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Free State, which the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform holds in trust in line with the Rural Areas Act. The Transformation of Certain Rural Areas Act makes provision for these to be transferred to municipalities or land holding entities, but 23 years after the act was introduced the land has not been transferred, he said.

"We demand removal of administrative bottlenecks and immediate implementation ... in all 23 legislated areas utilising local participatory planning, drawing on local expertise."

He said semi-privatisation and long leases on state-owned forest areas badly affected the lives of people living in those areas. "We demand that the forest land and houses must belong to us and be registered in the names of our families."

He said the organisation also demands that the government introduce a "land redistribution Bill" that will make access to land an "enforceable right with priority being given to women and people who already work the land".

Baby Makgeledisa, a member of the North West Land Access Movement of South Africa said: "If we don't get the land back, we won't allow the general elections to happen."

Procedural advisor in Parliament Victor Ngaleka received the memorandum and said he would hand it to the relevant committee.

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