National Evictions Survey: Nkuzi Development Association and Social Surveys Africa briefings

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Meeting report

AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
30 August 2005
NATIONAL EVICTIONS SURVEY: NKUZI DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION AND SOCIAL SURVEYS AFRICA BRIEFINGS

Acting Chairperson:
Mr E Salamuddi (ANC)

Documents handed out:

Nkuzi Development Association and Social Surveys Africa PowerPoint presentation: National Evictions Survey
National Evictions Survey by Nkuzi Development Association and Social Surveys

SUMMARY
Nkuzi Development Association and Social Surveys Africa briefed the Committee on the results and findings of their research with regards to farm evictions and the impact of evictions on farm dwellers’ lives.

The Committee commended the Association and Social Surveys Africa on their research, stating that this study provided government helpful information. Members asked the researchers to conduct follow-up research into possible ways to help those who had already been evicted.

MINUTES
Nkuzi Development Association briefing

Mr Marc Wegerif presented background on land dispossession and its impact on evictees as a result of the history of colonial and Apartheid policies. An estimated 3.5 million people were forcibly removed from 1960 to 1983. According to a study conducted by the Surplus Peoples Project (SPP), 1.1 million of these people were removed from farms owned by white South Africans.

The overall objective of their study was to obtain accurate information on the extent, nature and impact of the evictions from farms to be used in the development of future legislative and programmatic interventions.

Ms Bev Russell of Social Surveys Africa presented their study approach, which involved a random sample of 300 communities with the objective of determining which communities might include displaced farm dwellers. Their prevalence survey involved a random sample of 7759 households in 75 communities, whilst in the impact survey, they returned to all 355 households identified as being that of evictee households to determine the nature of evictions and the impact the households evicted. Further, the researchers held interviews with farmers and other key informants in four areas of high eviction prevalence.

The findings indicated that from 1984 to 2004 a total of 4,183,427 people had been displaced from farms (that is, lived on a farm in the past and do not live on that farm now) of which 1,679,417 were evicted. From 1994 to the end of 2004 a total of 2,351,086 people were displaced from farms of which 942 303 were evicted. Only 1% of those evictions involving a legal process. Further, they noted that the majority of the evictees were black South Africans with 77% of them falling into the category of women and children.

Mr Wegerif noted that with their low education levels, lack of resources and poor awareness regarding their rights few evictee households were able to obtain assistance when evicted. The impact of evictions immediately after evictions were devastating, however in the long run, evictee were able to find better access to resources and services such as schools, tap water and electricity. About 27.5% of evicted households stated that they would prefer to stay on the farm since they believed that the quality of life and lack of crime meant it more sustainable for them. However, 40% of respondents felt that they did not want to return to the farms due to the lack of freedom and poor treatment by the farmers. Also, bad working conditions and the threat of further eviction, whilst 16% justified not wanting to return to the farms due to the lack of schools and education facilities for their children. With regards to Court Evictions, only 1% of evictions involved legal court processes.

Discussion
Ms B Ntuli (ANC) stated that the committee needed to look at farm evictions and the impact of these evictions. She reiterated that the victims of land dispossession needed stability. The victims did not have access to pensions or social aid.

Mr Wegerif replied that in principle, Agri Villages are possible options in dealing with this problem, however the problem was the nature of the agri-village where for example in the Western Cape housing policy where they define an agri-village, there are clauses stating that "no person residing in the village would entitled to have ownership of that land." He found this puzzling since people needed to be entitled ownership of land for security and stability in order to develop. Wegerif suggested that farm dweller settlements/agri-villages must give people secure homes of their own and opportunities for their own production.

Mr P Nefolovhodwe (APO) asked for clarity regarding their research methodology on the random sampling survey used. Secondly, he inquired as to their margin of error used. Thirdly, he asked how they could be certain of the respondents answering honestly.

Ms Russell responded saying that their methodology involved categorising every single sub-place into different types based on the demographics. Secondly they drew a random sample to get an even spread of the data. Finally, they calculated their estimated cluster numbers. Their margin of error was equal to a confidence interval of between 93 – 95%. Mr Wegerif added that they would interview the same respondent twice. The second time using in depth interviews, hence, if the same story was told twice without contradictions they could deduce that the responses were in fact a true account.

Mr P Ditshetelo (UCDP) asked for their opinion on what they thought to be the key reasons for the mass urbanisation in post 1994. What was the impact was regarding the process of mechanisation on urbanisation?

Mr Wegerif replied that the key reasons for evictions, that also contributed to urbanization, in post-1994 were economic factors. The process of mechanisation resulted in many farm labourers losing employment due to farmers being able to replace workers with machines and in some cases also farmers being afraid of possible labour disputes, hence they have replaced small machines in need of many workers operating them with one larger machine which requires only one skilled worker needed to operate it. In some cases the demand for skilled labour has increased, with the result that unskilled workers have lost their jobs.

Mr Z. Kotwal (ANC) concurred with the presenters’ findings on the rates of evictions giving the example of his constituency in Piet Retief which saw many black farmers’ livestock being confiscated due to evictions and their standard of living depreciating. Mr Wegerif stated that in the study they had had good cooperation from the farmers, and he once again concurred with Mr Kotwal’s comment.

Mr M Ngema (IFP) commented that while this report was helpful in highlighting the impacts and issues of the plight of land evictees, it did not put forth suggested solutions to the problem at hand. He asked whether there would be a follow up report that would research ‘possible solutions.’

Mr Wegerif stated that the objective of their presentation was to bring to light information for all the stakeholders who should then come up with solutions. Nkuzi Development Association was in the process of setting up a conference on the 26 and 28October 2005 in order to create a platform for Members of Parliament, farmers, farm dwellers and other stakeholders to discuss the findings and have constructive and meaningful discussion in order to seek solutions to this situation.

Dr R Schoeman (ANC) commended the researchers on their work and findings and commented that the South Africa government was failing in its implementation of programs to provide stability and assistance to these victims, since the victims are not aware of where or who to approach for legal assistance. The victims were in urgent need of delivery of services and resources.

Mr Wegerif replied that whilst this was an emotional issue, they needed to be level headed in their approach, since they did not want to create a situation where they provide one service to a community at the expense of forgoing another.

Mr S Holomisa (ANC) asked to what degree has Nkuzi Development Association and its partners sought assistance from the Department of Land Affairs. Mr Wegerif replied that they had consulted with government by discussing with them what they needed to know from this research project. Nkuzi Development Association had brought a court order against government regarding the obligation of the state to provide adequate legal and social services to the victims of land dispossession.

Mr Holomisa sought clarity on whether the Department of Land Affairs does supply land for the victims with regards to the "Labour Tenant Act." Mr Wegerif replied that there were approximately 36 ESTA projects implemented in the last 7-8 years and 175 Labour Tenant projects, which was certainly not impressive given the fact that over 20 000 labour tenant claims were lodged.

Mr E. Salamuddi (ANC) inquired what the impact of land dispossession had on burial sites. There were rumors of the exhumation of graves after land dispossession and asked if this were true. Ms Russell replied that the victims were very upset over the fact that they were not allowed to visit the graves of their loved ones after being evicted of the land, but she had not come across any cases of exhumation in her research.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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