KB.L South and Southern Africa Land News Digest: 19 October - 18 November 2020 | Land Portal

 

Land News and Analysis
Weeks 43 – 46 
South Africa
Southern, Central and Eastern Africa

19th October – 18th November 2020

News curated via knowledgebase.land

 

South African land news

The changing Covid context

South Africa reached its peak of Covid 19 cases in July 2020. Case numbers fell steeply in August before levelling off in September and October. However there are now signs that cluster outbreaks are increasing once again in the Eastern Cape Western Cape and Northern Cape’s prompting concerns about a possible second wave of infections. The Department of Health defines a resurgence as a 20% increase in the average number of cases over a seven-day period. As of November 17, 2020 there were just under 2000 confirmed cases in the country on the day. Total recorded cases now stand at 754,256 while more than 20,000 people are reported to have died. However, as we indicated in previous news updates the actual death rate is substantially higher.

The extent of the impacts of Covid 19 upon employment, household food security and the formal and informal economy has yet to be fully understood. Data released by Statistics South Africa indicates that the South African economy shed two million jobs in the second quarter of 2020. This is described as “an unprecedented change and the largest quarter to quarter decline since the Quarterly Labour Force survey was first undertaken in 2008”.

There are widespread concerns that a return to lockdown would have an extremely negative impact on the economy and jobs with business trying to secure certainty from government that South Africa will not return to hard lockdown, irrespective of infection rates.

Expropriation

With the publication of a revised version of the expropriation Bill earlier in October – something that has been in preparation since 2008, government is reported to be taking steps to reassure investors that the land acquisition process will be managed within the framework of the rule of law (Businesstech 21 October 2020).

The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has been arguing that the proposed amendment to the Constitution and the finalisation of the Expropriation Bill will provide legal clarity on what the government can and can’t do with respect to land expropriation, and that this will reassure investors.

Meanwhile the ad hoc committee established by Parliament to examine the amendment of the property clause in the Constitution has resumed public hearings in Limpopo and the Northern Cape.

Lucas Ledwaba writing in the Daily Maverick (25 October 2020) reports how the land expropriation hearing in Limpopo had to be abandoned for security reasons, as supporters of the ruling ANC and the EFF, the second largest opposition party, clashed with each other at the hearings venue. The likelihood that the public hearing contributed to the spread of Covid 19 cannot be discounted, as more than a thousand people packed into the hall, failing to maintain social distancing as required by the lockdown regulations.

Meanwhile MPs confirmed that the Expropriation Bill will be pushed through the national legislature as part of a suite of legislation to accelerate land reform.

Associate Professor of Law, Elmien du Plessis has provided a useful analysis of the convoluted process leading up to the publishing of the new Expropriation Bill, 2020 (The Conversation, 1 November 2020). She explains:

The first attempt at an Expropriation Bill was 12 years ago, in 2008, but it was shelved because of the concern that it obscured the role of the courts in expropriation and would therefore be declared unconstitutional.

Another attempt was made in 2013. The 2013 bill was refined and became the 2015 bill, which made it onto the table of the president the same year, to be signed into law. But it was officially withdrawn in 2018 because the process of amending section 25 of the constitution was still not completed. Communities living on land in terms of customary law also had reservations about its constitutionality, including the public participation process.

Du Plessis points out that there remain a few unclear provisions in the Bill including the actual definition of expropriation, the circumstances under which no compensation would be payable and the process of expropriating land on which communities have land rights. The Bill is only likely to be finalised in 2021.

The Minister of Public Works who has been criticised by the conservative think tank, the Institute for Race Relations (IRR), mounted a counter-attack to her detractors in an op-ed in Business Day (8 November 2020).

She notes that back in 2015 the IRR had proposed an alternative Expropriation Bill. The Department of Public Works had at the time sought legal opinions of two leading advocates, who both agreed that the draft proposed by the IRR “was inconsistent with the approach to property which is reflected in the Constitution”. The Minister rubbished the attempts of the IRR to reintroduce their alternative bill stating that:

The emotive land issue needs clear perspective to avoid disinformation campaigns bad analysis and political populism as seen in the IRR alternative bill. There is no more time for alternative bills or legislation. Let us get on with the important task of land reform and spatial justice.

The Expropriation Bill has been referred to the National House of Traditional Leaders for consideration. The House of Traditional Leaders has until 6 December 2020 to make comments on the Bill.

Farms and Farmworkers

As reported in the previous land knowledge update, the EFF had succeeded in inserting itself into the social response to the murder of a young farmer in the Free State. Subsequent to this, the EFF has sought to take up the case of farmworker rights, urging Parliament to intervene to improve the living conditions of farmworkers in the country. The EFF proposed the formation of an ad hoc committee to hold public hearings with all interested and affected stakeholders (SowetanLive 6 November 2020). Mandla Mandela, the Chair of the Land and Agriculture Portfolio Committee in Parliament is reported as saying that he hoped “the EFF was not using this to score political points as it involved the lives of vulnerable people”.

While the Portfolio Committee Chair was reported to support the proposal to debate the living conditions of farmworkers, he did not support the establishment of an ad hoc committee, stating that it would duplicate the oversight functions that the portfolio committee already exercises. The Democratic Alliance tabled its concerns that the focus of the discussion seemed to be exclusively on the Western Cape, where the DA forms the provincial government. The DA representative proposed that it would be preferable “to conduct a comprehensive review of the conditions of farmworkers across the country, including all the work that has been done within and by the agricultural organisations”.

No-one in the debate seems to have made reference to a comprehensive ILO report (2015) which had set out to provide just such a review. Nor did they refer to the findings and recommendations of the Motlanthe High-Level Panel or the Presidential Advisory Committee on land. The extent to which the findings and recommendations of these detailed reports have actively been taken up by government remains in question.

Subsequently the National Assembly rejected what was described as the EFF’s divisive motion to establish an ad hoc committee, but approved a new motion which undertook to review the relative legislation, conduct public hearings and report back to the House by the end of 2021. (News 24 10 November).

It seems that government advocates continuing processes of public hearings and review. These may create the impression of momentum, but also reflect the failure to properly consider and address the substantive issues and recommendations arising from the processes which preceded them. Ironically, repeated rounds of public hearings may contribute to the erosion of trust in government and public confidence that it will move from talk to practical action.

In other farmworker related news Groundup (6 November 2020) reported on rising tensions within the Franschhoek Valley. These relate to a decades long battle over housing linked to Anglo-American’s decision to move all farmworkers off the Rhodes Fruit Farms prior to selling the historic estate in 2003. Black and coloured employees were moved to Languedoc where they were built houses.  However, many workers were subsequently retrenched when the canning factory closed. In cases where workers refused to move from the farm they were evicted from the property. The new settlement was supposed to be managed by a housing association for which Anglo-American registered a Communal Property Association. However, the CPA soon became defunct and was subsequently wound up. The new settlement was characterised by high unemployment, disaffected youth, drugs and gangs. There was an expectation that additional housing would be constructed on vacant land to meet the needs of a growing community. However, this served to exacerbate existing social tensions between Coloured and African workers (mostly seasonal) and with the long-standing residents of the original Lanquedoc farmworker settlement.

GroundUp reports on rising tensions between homeowners and backyard shack dwellers – mostly seasonal workers. Backyard shack dwellers are alleged to have moved on to a 14 ha piece of land belonging to the local Community Development Trust, set up for the benefit of former Boschendal farmworkers. This land occupation led to arrests and subsequent protests by backyard shack dwellers, which were met by counter protests from homeowners. A confused situation resulted, in which rival groups of protestors are said to have blocked the roads to Lanquedoc village. Tragically this prevented an ambulance from reaching a 23-year-old woman in need of emergency medical care who subsequently died at a local hospital. As GroundUp explains:

This is a conflict over land and houses between poor people: families with long-standing Boschendal employment ties, mostly coloured, and backyard dwellers, some of whom are now also Boschendal workers, mostly black. In the background are government structures with a mandate to provide housing and large landowners, mostly white. Legal advice and non-profit entities are also involved.

It is also a conflict which can trace its roots all the way back to the history of slavery in the Cape and the impacts of influx controls, the migrant and Coloured Labour Preference systems put in place under apartheid. These resulted in systemic inequality and social division. And yet, like many problems in contemporary South Africa it is not insoluble, provided there is meaningful engagement and thorough going dialogue to find local solutions.

On a more optimistic note the Western Cape Department of Agriculture announced that it will provide relief to employees in the local wine tourism sector in the form of a R12 million support fund. This seeks to safeguard continuous employment of wine tourism workers by subsidising their salaries for a key quarter of the tourism calendar (IOL 16 November 2020).

Food security

Government in South Africa seeks to provide support for smallholder and subsistence farmers in the form of input vouchers. According to the Minister the department was working with a cell phone company to enable farmers to be able to use their phones to apply for vouchers directly, rather than through completion of paper forms.

However an article published in New Frame (18 November 2020) indicates the extent of the mounting food insecurity in South Africa and in particular in the Eastern Cape province. On 15 October government announced that a R350 social relief of distress grant would be extended for a further three months.

Queues of hungry and desperate people form the night before the grants are paid out. People interviewed while they waited in the long lines, spoke about the hardships which they are facing:

I did not eat this morning. We have no food at home, so the grant helps to close the gap

I pay a taxi driver R26 for a round trip to town. Sometimes I wait there for two hours or more, depending on the numbers on that particular day. Today I’m number 148, and the line is too slow, but I won’t give up. When I get the money, I will buy 12kg maize meal, 10kg rice, 12kg samp and another 12kg cake flour, which will last us for a month.

Some wait in line but leave empty-handed:

I have not received any money since lockdown started. Every month when I come to town, the officials tell me that my name doesn’t appear on the computer.

Land governance and administration

The Ingonyama Trust continues to make the news. Minister Thoko Didiza ordered a forensic audit into the financial affairs of the Trust. Despite this order the chairperson of the trust Jerome Ngwenya continued to deny the existence of the probe, while questioning the powers of the Minister to order the audit in the first place. Ngwenya regards himself as being solely accountable to the Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelethini. However, since 22 October there has been no further reports on progress with the audit, or indications of when it will be completed.

Land Rights and Mining

The social trauma and environmental costs of mining have loomed large in this period.

On the 22nd October Fikile Ntshangase, a member of the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO) committee, a local organisation championing the rights of those affected by mining in the area, was gunned down in her home by assassins.

Nolundi Luwaya (Daily Maverick 2 November 2020) provides the frame for the events leading up to this murder:

We need to pull back the curtain and see her death in the broader context of escalating violence against rural people who attempt to assert their rights in the face of corporate and state intransigence. The harassment and killing of activists who are part of community struggles against mining activities has a terrible history.

She provides an account of the killing of other activists who have resisted mining, including ‘Bazooka’ Hadebe from Xolobeni who was shot down outside his home in 2016 by two men posing as policemen. She sets out the mining company strategy which is calculated to stoke intra-comunity violence.

The reality is that the mine has adopted a crude divide-and-rule strategy by insisting that no compensation will be paid to those who have agreed to move until everyone who objects has agreed. This approach is accompanied by a constant refrain that major retrenchments are inevitable as long as “a few families” hold out.

Community members who dare to remain steadfast in demanding adequate compensation find themselves ostracised by neighbours and vilified by the mine. They find themselves accused of being unreasonable and greedy – and at the centre of dangerous conflict and distrust within the community.

An extraordinary photo essay by James Puttick in New Frame (30 October 2020) explores the legacy of unrehabilitated coal mines for impoverished communities in Wesselton, Mpumalanga.

The township is hemmed in on both sides by abandoned and unrehabilitated coal mines. To the southeast, the landscape is scarred by the ripped earth, mine pits and polluted tailings left by the disused Imbabala mine, while to the northeast are the abandoned shafts of Golfview mine, where underground fires are burning in the coal seams, and wetlands have been polluted. 

In what seems to be a common pattern, mining companies exploit resources to the maximum before declaring bankruptcy, exiting from their rehabilitation responsibilities and leaving their poisonous legacy behind – “multiple hazards of polluted rivers, toxic mine tailings and a landscape dotted with blackened pits and unstable shafts”.

Puttick take his readers underground to reveal the hazards facing artisanal miners or zama zamas who remain unrecognised and illegal, as they pursue harsh and dangerous livelihoods, hacking coal from abandoned underground seams and physically carrying it out of the mines to sell their coal to informal dealers.

Less than a month after Ma Ntshangase’s murder (New Frame 17 November)  reported that Nonhle Mbuthuma, a prominent anti-mining activist in Umgungundlovu in Eastern Mpondoland had received a death threat by SMS. The threat listed other Xolobeni activists already killed, placing her next in line:

You are all going to be killed …You will run out of money for paying for security and we will get you. We are not going to be controlled by a bitch. Once you change your security, we will strike.

Redistribution

State land redistribution – a mirage?

As reported in previous issues the state announced the release of 700,000 ha of state land with the intention of distributing it to emerging farmers. However numerous problems have emerged with respect to this offer – primarily because the bulk of the land which people are applying to access is already occupied. Much of the state land in question was purchased by the apartheid state through the South African Development Trust, as part of the process of consolidating the various ethnic homelands’ which were the foundation of the apartheid vision of ‘separate development’.

Rosalie Kingwill writing in the Daily Maverick (22 October 2020) has spelt out major concerns with the state land redistribution process:

As a land reform practitioner of several decades, my first reaction to the news that the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development was intending to release state-owned land on the basis of long-term leases was one of incredulity. 

My second reaction upon the release of the official record of properties to be made available by the state was one of shock. I identified some of the farms with which I am familiar that have been listed in the Eastern Cape.

My research revealed that this land was not only beneficially occupied in most cases, but was subject to intense contestation between restitution claimants, occupiers and farmers (particularly those labelled lessees), most of whom were long-term occupiers.

Most of the occupiers had/have legal rights to the land in terms of the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act, 31 of 1996 (IPILRA).

This suggests that the proposed redistribution of state land is a recipe for further conflict and possibly a gateway for elite capture and dispossession of individuals and communities.

Numerous other stories have been published examining proposed redistribution of state land which are available on our land policy page.

To make matters worse, reports have been surfacing that officials processing applications and evicting existing occupants from the land have been taking bribes to either advance or defend people’s rights in the process.  (IOL 10 November 2020). While these allegations had been made, to date there has been no hard evidence provided to support these claims. The Minister urged communities and individuals to bring these issues to the office of the Acting Director-General for attention and to report attempts to extort bribes to the nearest police station.

Restitution

Settling the Ebenhaeser land claim

A  positive story about Restitution was provided by John Yeld writing in GoundUp (27 October 2020). The long-standing land claim of the Ebenhaeser community in the Western Cape was finally settled after days of negotiation which took place virtually during lockdown. The Ebenhaeser community’s total claim is for some 23,700ha, valued in 2015 at R363 million, for both land and developmental support from the government.

The negotiated settlement will result in the return of much of the fertile land from which the community was removed in 1926, and will see substantial government funding to help manage and develop the irrigated vineyards.

Land reform and rural development specialist David Mayson from Phuhlisani, first became involved  at Ebenhaeser while working for the Surplus People Project in 1998. In 2012 Phuhlisani was appointed as lead consultant for the Department of Land Affairs and Commission for the Restitution of Land Rights. The Phuhlisani team was responsible for facilitating agreement on a community development and land acquisition plan (CDLAP), which became the basis for subsequent negotiations and the establishment of a land holding entity, a community trust and an operating company.

Contestation over District Six redevelopment

In Cape Town there have been an array of conflicting news stories about progress on the redevelopment of the District Six land claim and the relationship between the City of Cape Town and the National Department of Agriculture, Land Affairs and Rural Development.

A report compiled by the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights in 2019 provides some insights into just how complex and contested the claim settlement and subsequent development process has been. Various structures have been established over time to represent the claimants. These have included:

  • The District Six Beneficiary and Development Trust which was established in 1998 and was tasked to manage the first two phases of the redevelopment programme in 2008 and 2013, after which it withdrew.
  • The District Six Community Forum.
  • The District Six Reference Group was established at the directive of the Minister in 2012 who required that a claimant body be democratically elected to represent old order claims lodged before 31 December 1998.
  • The District Six Working Committee was subsequently established claiming to represent both old order claimants and those who lodge new claims when the land claims window was reopened between 2014 and 2016. It applied to the Land Claims Court for a declaratory order requiring the Minister to engage with them.

The District Six Development Trust (IOL 30 October 2020) was reported to be contesting the validity of the District Six redevelopment plan worked out between the City and the District Six Working Committee in 2019. The development of this plan followed court action initiated by the District Six Working Committee to hold the Department accountable to settle the claim and redevelop the area.

The Trust argued that the plan should be replaced with the earlier plan drawn up in 2012. According to the Trust’s Interim Chairperson “The 2012 development framework and business plan was formed in conjunction with the national government, province and the city. Why are they ignoring it?”

In a follow-up story (IOL, 19 November 2020) representatives of the District Six Working Committee were reported to be satisfied that the redevelopment process was getting back on track, despite delays caused by the Covid 19 pandemic, with the handover over of 108 units planned for April 2021. At the same time, the City is reported to be consulting with claimants to develop a local spatial development framework for the District Six area, while the national government is responsible for the overall redevelopment of District six and the building of houses for restitution claimants.

Then IOL (10 November 2020) reported that the Minister had “given the city a stern warning not to use District six land to gentrifying the area”. The City exercised its right to reply noting that the letter written by the Minister dated back to July 2020 and was old news . In her response, the mayoral committee member for Spatial Planning and Environment Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt stated that the City was in fact using the 2012 plan as a point of departure to refine the local spatial development framework. So quite how these different plans fit together seems somewhat unclear.

In December 2019 Minister Didiza submitted a detailed plan for the redevelopment of District Six as required by the Land Claims Court. This included conceptual layouts for redevelopment, specifics of how the plan was to be funded, timeframes for implementation and methodologies for allocating residential units to the claimants. How this articulates with the 2012 plan has yet to be clarified. It’s a complex situation and given the history to date it seems likely that there may be more disputes to resolve before this matter is finally settled and land and housing transferred.

In other restitution related news CapeTalk reported that on 2 November 2020 a group calling themselves Indigene Khoi and San tribes had set up camp in a section of the Table Mountain National Park in Cecilia Forest stating that they should be free to live there. According to the interview SANParks management had agreed that they could be there during the day, but were not permitted to stay overnight, or to light fires. The group seeks to raise awareness about unresolved ancestral land claims of the indigenous peoples in South Africa which are not catered for in the current land restitution framework.

Rural development

There are a wide range of stories appearing on our rural development pages ranging from:

  • the persistence of severe drought in parts of the Eastern Cape and the failure of local municipalities to deliver water to rural residents.
  • a locust plague threatening Eastern Cape farmers.
  • the successful attempts by the Land Bank to secure R7 billion to secure its operations.
  • the murder of another farmer in the Free State Tebogo Machakela (37) who succumbed to his injuries after he was shot in the head on his farm near Odendalsrus in August this year. Machakela was in a coma and hospitalised for six weeks before his death.

Urban land

As usual our urban land pages are filled with numerous stories – too many of them to mention in detail here. We briefly select a few highlights from the past four weeks.

Western Cape

The City of Cape Town has come under criticism for claiming to have spent 90% of its urban settlements development grant (IOL 29 October), when it is alleged that much of the funds were diverted for emergency Covid 19 expenditure.

There is ongoing debate in Cape Town about the failure of the City to provide well located and affordable social housing which will break the mould of the segregated apartheid city spatial planning. Malusi Booi, Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements argues in the Daily Maverick (8 November 2020) that it is housing activist organisations such as Reclaim the City which have occupied abandoned buildings that are responsible for slowing the pace of delivery. According to Booi the occupations makes redevelopment of the sites and provision of social housing impossible. A counter argument (Daily Maverick 17 November 2020) proposes that:

The Cape Town inner-city building occupations should not be dismissed as unlawful reservoirs of criminals and freeloaders. Rather, they should be understood as innovative, legitimate and valid forms of protest that do not seek to destroy, but rather to rebuild and reimagine.

The City has also sought to defend the integrity of the Housing Needs Register – the database which according to the City is one of the pillars of fair and systematic housing delivery in South Africa (IOL 16 November 2020). However, housing waiting lists have long been critiqued as a fiction by researchers and activists who show how housing allocation processes are frequently overridden by political interference, both from above and below.

Court proceedings continue as the City appeals the Tafelberg judgment which cancelled a sale agreement between province and a school which had purchased the site (IOL 13 November 2020) The Western Cape Provincial government has characterised the cancellation as ‘judicial overreach’. This appeal was subsequently delayed and will only be heard in 2021.

Evicted residents from Bromwell street in Woodstock, a suburb bordering on the Cape Town CBD have argued that the City has a responsibility to provide social or temporary accommodation in the inner city. “The residents’ homes were bought by private developers, Woodstock Hub, in 2013 as part of Woodstock’s gentrification push. Meanwhile the residents have fought to remain in Woodstock”. The only offer of alternative accommodation is in remote and socially dysfunctional ‘temporary relocation areas’ far from economic opportunities and essential social networks. The Judge in the Woodstock eviction case has expressed concerns about the perpetuation of ‘spatial apartheid’ in South African cities (Groundup 17 November 2020).

We are still exporting the poorest of the poor to the periphery - people of colour and black people who are unable to afford housing. The result is that we are still giving effect to the legacy of spatial apartheid.

On the periphery of the city people occupying land and establishing new informal settlements blocked one of the main highways into the city as part of a protest demanding that the City provide water, toilets and electricity.  Three buses and a truck were reported to have been burnt by protestors.

However, Malusi Booi from the City has countered that the land people have occupied is low-lying and is unsuitable for settlement  and that the City could not “provide immediate services, if at all” to all newly formed settlements at the expense of the existing services and budgeted programmes.

Eastern Cape

Timeslive (19 October 2020) carries a story about contestation amongst informal settlement residents in Area 11, Gunguluza, Uitenhage, as people compete for space and access to services. In an unrelated article GroundUp (3 November 2020) reports on an Eastern Cape building fiasco in which an RDP housing project in Matatiele costing R174 million, resulted in a thousand substandard and unfinished homes being constructed, while a dispute between the contractor and the Department of Human Settlements has been referred to the courts.

DispatchLive (11 November 2020) reports on a protest by 70 Mdantsane pensioners who were forcibly removed from their homes during apartheid and who want their homes to be restored. The pensioners stated that they had lodged a land claim more than 20 years ago, but had heard nothing since.

Gauteng

In Gauteng GroundUp (22 October 2020) reports on a housing protest by the Gauteng Housing Crisis Committee against lack of housing delivery and the seeming abandonment of the rapid land release programme. Marchers picketed the Premier’s office.

The crisis committee is demanding that a rapid land release task team be created, and include its representatives on it. They want the team to resolve what is stopping the release of the land and the Premier to allow homeless and landless people to actively participate in the planning and implementation of the programme.

A story on hostels redevelopment (17 November 2020) reveals how 300 people ‘temporarily relocated’ as part of a hostel upgrade process in the Dube hostels in Soweto have been living in overcrowded shipping containers for ten years. Duplexes and units were built just across the road but never allocated. These vacant structures have since been stripped and are uninhabitable.

There are no rooftops and wires; windows, taps, and doors were stolen from the new units. I do not understand why they moved us here and demolished our homes.

In Pretoria IOL (30 October 2020) has run a series of articles on a stalled township development plan for the Plastic View informal settlement which has been hampered by objections and Covid 19 delays.

There is a wide variety of news items covered on our Africa land news pages. In this issue we focus on land news from Namibia and Zimbabwe.

  • In Namibia, unregulated and illegal sand mining is of mounting environmental concern (The Namibian 12 November 2020). “Despite its visible destructiveness, sand-mining operators and contractors have been operating with impunity for a long time, even though they did not have the environmental clearances to mine sand.” In northern Namibia, the mayor of Ondangwa and a local businessman were charged recently with illegal mining of sand on 10 hectares of land.
  • In Zimbabwe, The Standard (15 November 2020) carries an in-depth analysis on the challenges facing land administration in Zimbabwe by researchers at the Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies.

The current land administration system, is unfortunately overwhelmed by the increase in the number of farmers, and increase in unit plots of land in a multifaceted and changing environment. The records for the A2 land offer letters are stored in the automated LIMS database which presumably includes information on all landholders. However, the ministry's land tenure database is not publicly available and thus limiting transparency and accountability in land tenure administration and management. There is also emerging evidence that suggests that LAS services, including registration systems and access to land dispute resolution remain largely remote and expensive for the majority of resettled farmers, especially women.

Owen Dhliwayo and Refiloe Joala, researchers at PLAAS (6 November 2020) highlight the acute tenure insecurity of rural villagers in Zimbabwe. They review the case of 750 households in Munyokowere village which were issued eviction notice letters by the State on 29 April 2019, instructing them to vacate the area within seven working days. Despite a favourable court ruling which interdicted their eviction in June 2020, the villagers were issued with yet another eviction notice in September 2020.

Theo de Jager chairperson of SAAI and President of the World Agricultural Organisation writes an op ed in the Graaf Reinet Advertiser (16 November 2020) asking where does  the proposed $3.5 billion compensation leaves expropriated Zimbabwean farmers. According to de Jager the key questions facing expropriated white farmers in Zimbabwe are:

Should we accept a less-than-ideal compensation settlement? Or should we keep fighting in Zimbabwean and South African courts, in regional tribunals and international forums until we can negotiate a fair and equitable outcome?

De Jager notes that the average age of farmers expropriated 20 years ago is now over 80 years. Given this he argues that:

They should accept the compensation offered, opening the door for Zimbabwe to resume its role as a highly competitive agricultural producer. They should again become the showpiece of the world’s beef, tobacco, cotton and cut flower industries, creating the prosperity that can pull their country from its abject poverty.

However, in doing so the farmers should not neglect the confrontation options!

The Zimbabwe Independent (13 November 2020) reports on a clash between artisanal miners and female livestock farmers in Shurugwi.

The Herald reports on illegal urban land sales by ‘land barons’ operating in Chitungwiza in collusion with Council officials.

Writing in the Conversation (14 November 2020) Dr Getrude Gwenzi provides sobering insights into how over 20,000 children have turned to vending as a means of survival since the Covid 19 lockdown. The legal working age in Zimbabwe is 16, but children as young as 10 and 12 years old are selling goods on the streets. She argues for expanded social policy programmes with increases in the social protection budget to cater for growing numbers of families with children in need.

 

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