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Threat of renewed farm strikes in W Cape

Oct 07 2014 18:35

Cape Town - Cosatu and a number of farm workers' organisations in the Western Cape have cautioned farm owners to stop evictions of farm workers as a result of an announcement made by Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Mkwinti.

In its policy document the ANC proposed, among other things, that farm labourers assume ownership of half the land on which they are employed.

The announcement the minister made in respect of the issues of land reform has seen many evictions taking place across the country, Cosatu said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

"Farm workers have declared that they are going to resist the evictions and Cosatu and the unions support them. Cosatu will be using all of the lawful and moral means at their disposal to assist the farm workers," Cosatu said.

Cosatu called for a moratorium on evictions pending the finalisation of the new land reform dispensation and its operational measures.

"Failure to comply with this moratorium will see large scale occupation of farms where owners continue with the apartheid style practices of evictions," said Cosatu.

"A failure on the part of farm owners to respond to these cautions will see renewed protest across Western Cape farms with this extending to the rest of the country, given the large scale humanitarian crisis caused by evictions."

Cosatu called on the government to urgently intervene to stop these evictions before it becomes like the full scale conflict seen in the past.

The union demanded provisions along the line of the Solms Delta project in Franschoek "which sees equity and justice being advanced as a short term measure, while the long term details are resolved by government".

"The continued evictions of farm workers and the disregard of the intention of the law by racist farm owners both black and white will see renewed war for justice in the Agricultural Sector, because the call for urgent mitigating steps were ignored," said Cosatu.

"Cosatu and allied organisations further calls on the immediate implementation of the government proposals on land reform to see a more equitable dispensation on farms. This must, however, be real land reform measures, not the equity schemes promoted by the Western Cape government that really just sees farmers con the farm workers to get access to additional funding."

In reaction to Cosatu's statement, Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde issued a statement saying the Western Cape government condemns illegal evictions.

"We also stand with Cosatu and its allied organisations in calling for the National Development Plan’s recommendation on land reform to be implemented. It is our aim to increase both the pace and scale of transformation in this sector," said Winde.

"In the Western Cape, we are making headway on this, and look forward to piloting some projects based on the NDP’s model in the near future. The agricultural sector has also issued its commitment to land reform."

Winde added that he, however, stands against "the sweeping language used by these bodies, especially in the absence of any firm figures being provided to back up their claims".

"The fact that no proof of an escalation in evictions has been shared with us is of high concern, and I call on Cosatu to provide specific evidence to my office so that I may take this up with the national government," said Winde.

"Following the Land Reform Summit hosted by my department in September, I wrote to Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Mcebisi Skwatsha, noting our concern around this matter and requested information on all reported cases of illegal evictions. We have received no feedback as yet."

- Fin24

cosatu  |  anc  |  alan winde  |  mcebisi skwatsha  |  economy  |  agriculture


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