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The South African Government and the Courts have made important progress in defining the respective legal rights of owners and others living on their farms. However, the absence of an institutionalized and neutral system to administer ESTA and labour tenant rights on commercial farms means that their adjudication occurs on a case-by-case basis, with the Courts often the only recourse when disputes arise. This forces landowners and people living on their farms into time-consuming and costly negotiations to resolve the myriad of disputes that can arise. The global pressures on the profitability of farms and the struggles of the rural poor to secure decent livelihoods compound these conflicts, making it urgent to negotiate new ways forward. The project focuses on the uMgungundlovu District and aims, together with government, land owners, ESTA occupiers and labour tenants, to develop a framework containing new models for how the rights of ESTA occupiers and labour tenants to secure tenure and access to services could be settled.
The project draws on the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nation’s Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGTs), which call on countries around the globe to:
– Recognise and respect all legitimate tenure right holders and their rights;
– Take reasonable measures to identify, record and respect legitimate tenure right holders and their rights, whether formally recorded or not; and
– Meet the duties associated with tenure rights.
AFRA’s primary task in the Pathways Project is to facilitate dialogue within and between each working space in order to develop consensus on how to develop an appropriate system for administering tenure rights on farms.
The Programme aims to address the on-going marginalisation of farm dwellers, who are largely unable to realise their Constitutional rights to land, services, housing and dignity due to highly unequal power relations on farms and the ineffective implementation of legislation and policies designed to give effect to these rights. The Programme contributes to the realization of the rights of farm dwellers to land, services, housing and dignity. This will be achieved by mobilising farm dwellers to claim their rights to secure land tenure and basic services, strengthening strategic partnerships and coalitions whilst developing flexible and progressive mechanisms that promote the realisation of these rights, ensuring that rights violations are being monitored and responded to effectively, strengthening policy and legislation through evidence-based policy submissions, and continuing strategic litigation to improve jurisprudence and test relevant legislation, policies and their implementation.
AFRA, in partnership with OZA and TA, assists women, youth and men residing or working on rural commercial farmland in the UMgungundlovu District to mobilise around key issues impacting on their quality of life and access to sustainable livelihoods, engaging with and influencing policies and processes that impact on their land and development rights. This builds on the work started in our Regional Farm Dweller and Workers Platform in September 2016 to identify, support and mobilise community entry points, networks and alliances as champions of land and development issues.
Launched in January 2017, this project is an integral part of AFRA’s Strategic Plan for 2017-19, and builds on similar work that AFRA has undertaken with communities over the past 37 years whilst also opening opportunities for us to explore new approaches. The project expands on and consolidates current work, building on aspects of community empowerment and mobilisation already within our existing projects. We are grateful to the farm dwellers and workers who stepped forward at the Platform and asked for support to create this space to work with each other, and to OZA and our other partners for working with us to enable this vision to become a reality.