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Farm Dwellers Advocacy Network Unites

When asked, during the second meeting of newly-formed Farm Dwellers Advocacy Network, to choose an animal to represent the struggle that farm dwellers face each day, a community leader replied, “uBhejane”: the rhino. The rhino was used to make the analogy that the people who used to have strength are threatened by poachers – the poachers represent those who infringe on their rights. Much like the rhino, farm dweller communities are often highly vulnerable, and feel that they lose their strength and unity when they are threatened.

Glenn Farred reflecting on issues that people have been facing recently. Photo: Tom Draper

Glenn Farred reflecting on issues that people have been facing recently. Photo: Tom Draper

The Farm Dwellers Advoacy Network gathered for the second time on the AFRA premises on Wednesday 11th November 2015 for a workshop, which included training on rights awareness. Leaders from various farming areas within the uMgungundlovu district assembled as AFRA aim to establish this network in order create a platform of communication where similar issues and means of resolving issues can be discussed.

Glenn Farred, the Programme Manager at AFRA, asked participants to report on pertinent issues that communities were facing. Richmond, Umgeni, Impendle and many other municipalities faced a variety of issues relating to service delivery. Lack of sufficient schooling, road infrastructure, poor electricity infrastructure, were a few of these challenges.

The members of the network where encouraged to try and align the legal framework they were being taught with the everyday challenges they faced. Photo: Laurel Oettle

The members of the network where encouraged to try and align the legal framework they were being taught with the everyday challenges they faced. Photo: Laurel Oettle

A primary concern were people reliant on social grants being unable to access them. A predominant theme was that many people still can’t get ID documents in order to collect their governmental grants. Grandmothers looking after a number of children faced problems in that the mothers are collecting child grants but have abandoned their children.
The workshop primarily focused on rights awareness and how they relate to each person and their communities in a more practical context. Siya Sithole, AFRA’s Lands Rights Advocate, explained the the legal system to attendees, and went on to discuss the notion of what a Class Action lawsuit is and how it can be used.

Each community member left with a full stomach and full mind, as they were asked to contemplate what they had learnt as the Network moves forward into its next stages.

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