AFRA News, Labour tenants

Help us bring further comfort and dignity to Zabalaza Mshengu


In July 2017, AFRA urged you to join us in dedicating your time and energy to bring some comfort and dignity to 103-year-old Zabalaza Mshengu and assist us in building him a room after we found him in a dire condition during a visit. You can read his story here, and help us spread the word:

From previous donations, we had R4,100 in the Mshengu Building Fund, a further R3,992 was donated to the fund a few days after the call for support was made. In total we were able to raise R8,092. We thank everybody who has supported Mshengu thus far for their generous contributions.

Because of the slow-moving wheels of justice in Mshengu’s land claim and legal processes, the building of Mshengu’s house had to be temporarily postpone, and only commenced in November, and we managed to complete the laying of the foundation. After more than 10 years of working with and frequently visiting Mshengu, we have never seen him happier.

There are costs to the building which we hadn’t anticipated, including the cost of delivery of the materials to the farm. This has affected the cost our builder (who has given of his time for free) had estimated for the 1-roomed house. Building materials have been bought, however we still need more to be able to finish the house adquately. The AFRA team and other volunteers are committed to continuing with the building over the holidays to ensure that Mshengu enters the New Year in his new house.

We appeal to you to continue to help us bring some comfort and dignity to Mshengu, as for this time of the year reminds us about giving, a time to remember others less fortunate than ourselves, a time for families to come together and celebrate the birth of Christ. And what better way to celebrate your Christmas by giving to this remarkable old man.

We would also value donations of food, blankets, or anything that will help Mshengu enjoy his Christmas.

Donations can be made to the account below or cash or in-kind donations given to our Receptionist, Faith. For more information or to get involved, please contact Nokuthula on / 076 754 7110.

Name of Account: Association for Rural Advancement
Reference: Mshengu
Bank: First National Bank
Acc no: 50950020963
Branch Code: 223125

Update on the Legal Process:

Zabalaza Mshengu’s land claim remains unresolved, despite the Courts declaring him a labour tenant in 2007 – more than a decade ago. In July this year, the matter was referred back to Court for a third time for the settlement of the purchase price. The court ordered that the landowners and the Director General for the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) appoints the land valuers within 30 days of the order. The DRDLR have failed to comply with this court order, and AFRA continues to engage the DRDLR to push for their compliance with the court directive.

AFRA News, Land News

Pathways Project Maps Farm Dweller Visions


We have reached the halfway point of the three-year Pathways Project, and achieved amazing milestones in this short period. In the first half of the project the project team successfully completed a detailed research survey with 850 farm dweller households in the uMgungundlovu District, which has provided a rich and detailed picture of the current realities of farm dwellers. There has been continuous stakeholder engagement throughout the project, which includes government officials, farm dwellers, community based organisations, land owners and commercial farmers. In keeping with the AFRA principle of inclusivity, and the approach of being led by farm dwellers themselves, six visioning workshops were planned to be held with local municipalities in the project area during November and December 2017. The visioning workshops are designed to bring together local stakeholders in the form of a focus group, in order for them to discuss the current situation on farms, and brainstorm possible models that would unlock new possibilities for the future. The methodology used by AFRA in facilitation of these focus groups is one that affords participants an opportunity to illustrate their experiences and proposals visually using pictures and icons.

We have already successfully conducted three of the six planned workshops in uMngeni, Impendle and Richmond municipalities. It has been an awakening and exciting experience to participate in these workshops. The content that emerged from local people who have a good understanding of the conditions on farms is invaluable. It has been impressive to observe people living on farms, particularly youth, discuss, debate and explore pathways to sustainable livelihoods. The majority of participants during these workshops submitted that the solution is not to replace the current owners of land with the current occupiers of land, but rather to find a way to coexist. This is evident in many of the visual illustrations where icons representing land owners and those representing occupiers are plotted on the same farm as depicted in the image below:


We look forward to the three upcoming visioning workshops. Once we have conducted, analysed and reported on all six workshops we will be in a position to map out the results at a district level. We will then return to all six local municipalities to meet again with the participants to present the models that emerged from the process as a whole, and identify the overall synergies and patterns that emerge.

AFRA News, Labour tenants

Advancing Farm Dweller’s Access to Water and Sanitation through the Courts

AFRA has brought a legal application against a number of land owners and municipalities in order to highlight local and district municipalities failure to provide farm dwellers and labour tenants with access to water, adequate sanitation and refuse collection, as well as their failure to prioritise the rights of occupiers and labour tenants in their Integrated Development Plans (IDPs).

After many years of attempting to secure access to basic services for farm dwellers, the Legal Resources Centre has prepared and filed a court application on these matters on behalf of affected farm dwellers and AFRA. There is an extensive legal and policy framework that substantiates the case, including those requiring municipalities to assist farm dwellers with prioritisation of their rights to access sufficient water, sanitation and collection of refuse in their IDPs.

AFRA has assisted nearly two hundred farm dwellers and labour tenants who claim they do not have access to basic services. In many cases, when they approach their municipalities to raise their concerns, municipal officials inform them that farm owners prevent them from gaining access to their farms, thereby obstructing them from providing basic municipal services to farm dwellers.

Through its application, AFRA is attempting to ensure that municipalities install a sufficient number of water user connections to supply a minimum quantity of portable water of 25 litres per person per day, at a minimum flow rate of not less than 10 litres per minute, and within 200 meters of each of household. In addition, municipalities must provide farm dwellers with access to basic sanitation by installing Ventilation Improved Pit (“the VIP”) toilets per household, and provide the collection of refuse.

The most basic services being demanded by farm dwellers and labour tenants have long been viewed as a basic human right by many South Africans. The absence of these services reflects how deeply prejudicial and harmful it is to continue treating farm dwellers and labour tenants as second-class citizens, voiceless and forgotten by those tasked to improve their lives in accordance with our Constitution.

Employment Opportunity

Research and Policy Co-ordinator

AFRA is a leading land rights organisation in South Africa, having been established in 1979 to oppose the eviction of black people under Apartheid legisaltion and policies. Today, we continue to serve the interests and needs of rural people, with a primary focus on farm dwellers. We are seeking to appoint an skilled individual to join our dynamic, growing team in this exciting new role.

A letter of motivation, a Curriculum Vitae, three contactable references from previous managers, and a relevant sample of written work should be submitted to Laurel Oettle on with a cc to by the 16th January 2018.

AFRA reserves the right not to make an appointment; only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

AFRA is an equal opportunity employer. Qualified women and historically disadvantaged individuals are encouraged to apply. For more information on AFRA, please refer to

Job Summary:

Title:                          Research and Policy Co-ordinator
Location:                  Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Reports to:               Programmes Manager
Start Date:                Immediately

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Land News

How farm dwellers in South Africa think about home, land and belonging

By Dr Donna Hornby, as published in The Conversation, November 16, 2017

South Africa’s unemployment rate puts it in the bottom ten countries in the world. Hunger levels are growing. It has what Berkeley geography professor Gillian Hart calls a “population surplus to the needs of capital” that must find ways to survive despite living a “wageless existence.”

This is happening against the backdrop of three unfolding social processes.

The first involves deteriorating conditions for survival. A new social category is emerging called the “precariat”: growing numbers of people who struggle to secure the conditions for their survival through traditional means like permanent work. Instead, more and more people survive through multiple jobs that are part-time, insecure and precarious. Guy Standing, who is a professor of economy security at Bath University and coined the term, estimates that a quarter of the world’s adult population is now in the precariat.

Secondly, land reform is now geared at servicing the economic needs of black and white rural elites. Land reform budget allocations are spent on the wealthy rather than poor South Africans who are unable to access land.

Thirdly, the structural legacy of dispossession of Africans from land hasn’t been addressed. Failing to resolve this means that a painful political question is left hanging and becomes an easy symbol to manipulate.

So how do these historical and present conditions constitute the conditions for an emancipatory politics? For instance, will rural people who need land to live on or to farm organise to assert claims for restoration?

One possible answer emerges from research undertaken by the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA), a land rights NGO working with farm dwellers in South Africa’ Kwazulu-Natal province.

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Events, Labour tenants, Land News

[Press Release] KZN Farm Dwellers Vow to Increase Pressure on Government and Land Owners

“It is time to change tactics”


Farm dwellers and labour tenant claimants have vowed to take their destiny into their own hands to achieve secure tenure, end vulnerability and deprivation on farms and complete the long promised settlement of claims. Frustrated with continued government failures and land owner intransigence, representatives of farm dwellers and labour tenants from across the province received and shared updates on the conditions on farms and the progress being made by newly established government structures to address their needs.

Minister Nkwinti was prompted into action after a 2016 precedent-setting class-action case in the Land Claims Court, brought by AFRA and the Legal Resources Centre (LRC),  forced the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to finally act on approximately 20,000 labour tenant claims that had been languishing for 19 years.

At the KZN Farm Dweller and Labour Tenant Platform, held in Newcastle on 21 – 22 October 2017, Thabiso Mbhense, of the LRC, briefed participants on the latest developments in the case to finally and fully implement the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act No.3 of 1996, whose non-implementation has been dragged on unnecessarily by continued appeals and delays instituted by Minister Nkwinti’s stubborn refusal to accept the findings of several court judgements handed down by the Land Claims Court.


In December 2016, Judge Ncube found that Minister Nkwinti and the Director General acted in manner, “inconsistent with Sections 10, 25 (b), 33, 195 and 237 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa” and that a, “Special Master of Labour Tenants” shall be appointed by no later than the 3 March 2017 to supervise the Director General and the Department in respect of the pending labour tenant claims. The judgment details the steps to be undertaken to achieve the expeditious resolutions of these claims.

The Department and the Minister lodged an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which was granted.  The record was filed with Supreme Court of Appeals on 03 July 2017 and an application for urgent enrollment also submitted to the Supreme Courts of Appeal. We are now awaiting the finalisation of the Court date.

While the wheels of justice have slowly turned, the DRDLR established a dedicated Labour Tenant Project and the project manager was appointed in March 2017. At the start of 2017 the DRDLR also established National & District labour tenant forums, established across all districts in KwaZulu Natal, which are coordinated by the department.

Reviewing these developments participants heatedly debated the impact of these efforts against their everyday reality. The dire state of affairs on farms was described by one participant:

In the 19 years since the laws were passed nothing has changed. Today claimants are dying, the department has lost their claims and many farms have new land owners who deny us our rights. Some land owners cut off basic services such as water or lock gates, while the Department seems helpless to do anything…”

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Events, Labour tenants, Land News

[Press Alert] AFRA and the LRC invites media to the Provincial Platform for Labour Tenants (21 October 2017)

After a land mark judgment in December in favour of the appointment of a Special Master on the (Mwelase and Others v Director-General for the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and Others) case to oversee the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform implementation of the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act, the Department and the Minister lodged an application for leave to appeal the judgement to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which the court granted.

While awaiting the finalisation of the Court date, on 21 October 2017, starting at 09:00 am, the Association For Rural Advancement (AFRA) and the Legal Resource Centre (LRC) will host a Provincial Labour Tenant Workshop at Majuba Lodge in Newcastle. The event aims to bring together labour tenants and farm dweller representatives from across the KZN province to engage around the labour tenant class action case and to give them a platform to share strategies to impact on the processing and finalisation of outstanding land claims.

  • Read AFRA’s press statement on the Mwelase vs DRDLR judgment here.
  • Read the latest news about the Mwelase case here.

For more information, please contact:

Nokuthula Mthimunye (AFRA Communications Advocate) 076 754 7110 or Thabiso Mbhense (LRC Attorney Durban) 071 109 9340 or Claire Martens (LRC Communications officer) 082 470 1187