Our Land

POSTED ON May 5, 2015 BY admin


We really appreciate the wonderful feedback from so many of you upon receiving your copies of the latest music collection, “We Are An African People” from the Church Land Programme (CLP). The genesis of the playlist was our 2014 event celebrating the legacy of Amilcar Cabral and “a Pan-African heritage of struggle”. Of course there’s a terrible irony that many of our overseas friends got their copies of the CD at about the same time as South Africa experienced what we described in the last Padkos mailing as “a chilling upsurge in hatred, threats, and looting directed against people who live here but who come from other countries of the global South and the African continent”.

In this edition of Padkos we’re sharing a brief note from the recent ‘palaver’ discussion focusing on Andries du Toit’s analysis of the land question (see Padkos No.63). The discussion was a good opportunity to add the analysis and experience of farm-workers and dwellers to our overall perspective. Issues emerging there seem likely to shape a significant proportion of our work in the coming period.

That discussion concludes that transformation has to connect concrete struggles of resistance against what is, with the inauguration of a radically new living politics of the countryside that begins and ends in the practical manifestation of the principle of absolute egalitarianism – i.e., the idea and practice that everyone counts. Finally, that means that the rational conversation needed to transform our rural areas and farms includes the thinking and the action of all who are there. That principled assertion has to be held in a way that is ‘indifferent’ to claims of history, ethnicity, class or race in the sense that a new liberatory politics can only ever be undertaken by new and liberated human beings in collective assemblies of deliberative thought and action. But the concrete steps and struggles of that politics are of course made in the particularities of people’s lives and places – which are marked precisely by their history, ethnicity, class, race and so on. So, for the end result to be a communal conversation involving everyone on the basis of genuine egalitarianism, the histories of dispossession, conquest, racism and exploitation have to be confronted and overcome.

One key issue that emerged in the discussion connects people’s contemporary struggles with a resurgent expansion of mining activity in the region – especially in areas under “traditional authority”. Our colleagues at the environmental- justice organisation, groundWork, are also working with people confronting the ensuing challenges. Have a look at Robby Mokgalaka’s attached article on the resistance of the Fuleni community against mining capital.

Of course all these are components of an overarching story of land, power and struggle in South Africa. Marianne Thamm’s article for the Daily Maverick (“Land Question: Significant Ideological and Policy Shifts”, also attached) adds some important insights to what is a fairly complex conjuncture. In the article, Thamm addresses recent development concerning, inter alia:

  • the appointment (or not) of the Judge President for the Land Claims Court;
  • a pending Constitutional Court challenge of a recent amendment to the Restitution of Land Rights Act by land activists;
  • growing evidence of elite capture of the redistribution programme; and
  • highlights from a recent overview of land reform policy and implementation over the past 20 years by Professor Ruth Hall, Associate Professor and researcher with the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape.

notes from land palaver March 2015

groundwork Fuleni against coal mining

Thamm Land question Significant ideological and policy shifts