The Pathways Project (Farm Dweller Rights Settlement Project), funded by the European Union
AFRA’s innovative Pathways Project – affectionately named after being descibed as mapping “pathways out of poverty” – is an initiative that facilitates consensus between landowners, farm dwellers and government around how to settle the rights of ESTA occupiers and labour tenants to secure tenure and access to services.
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 Richmond and Umshwathi Local Municipalities 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 Forgotten Citizens Youth Mural Project, funded by the Foundation For Human Rights
Within this innovative new project, launched in 2016, dialogues were held with young people living on commercial farms in uMgungundlovu, where they shared their experiences and learned about their land and employment rights. A series of three murals were then created, with young people recording and claiming the rights that they have learnt. The development of the murals was captured on a stop-frame animation video which young people have been sharing through social media and other platforms, with #Siyazi, which translates to “we know”, meaning that through the dialogues we have had with them, they now know their rights.
The Farm Dweller Advocacy Project, funded by Bread for the World
The project aims to contribute meaningfully to ensuring farm dwellers and workers in South Africa enjoy secure rights in land and receive protection in terms of labour laws, which guarantee employment security and fair working conditions on farms.
It thus seeks to ensure that farm dwellers and workers in the midlands region of KwaZulu Natal province enjoy greater realisation and enforcement of basic rights including tenure security, access to basic services, greater job security, and improved working conditions on farms. The project additionally works towards enabling arm dwellers, AFRA, and other partners to positively influence farm and labour policy and legislation.
One key aspect of this project has been AFRA’s ongoing involvement in the groundbreaking Labour Tenants Class Action legal case, which has led to the Department for Rural Development and Land Reform renewing their commitment to processing labour tenant applications in South Africa, and a Judgement in December 2016 ordering the appointment of ‘Special Master’ – a key new legal instrument within the South African Legal System – to oversee this process and ensure labour tenant rights are finally realised.
The Rural Democracy: Farm Dweller Advocacy Project, funded by Oxfam South Africa (OZA)
AFRA, in partnership with OZA, will assist women, youth and men residing or working on rural commercial farmland in six local municipalities in uMgungundlovu 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 will build 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.
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.
AFRA is part of the Tshintsha Amakhaya civil society alliance, which is entering it’s third 3-year phase in 2017. Tshintsha Amakhaya is an alliance for land and food justice in South Africa. Rural women and men stand united in solidarity to advance their rights and secure livelihoods.