AFRICAN FARMERS UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA
As presented to the National Portfolio Committee 4 March 2008
Since 1994, the government of South Africa has put in place a number of instruments and legislature, and other measure towards the realization of the Constitution of South African that provides for the rights to have access to adequate housing and the protection against arbitrary evictions. Yet despite these efforts by government, evictions are regular occurrences in the country. NAFU SA noted that a range of documents have reached our offices over this matter, including human rights reports, making the matter of evictions for our country an urgent concern requiring immediate actions that are hinged strongly with overall land reform solutions.
Between 1995 and as early as 2005, It was reported (UN Commission on Human rights report), that 826 679 people in the country had been evicted and out of this number, a large number of them were black farm dwellers. Also, Understanding that large number of black South Africans that still live on farms owned mostly by whites (by 2001, census 29 million), we foresee this as a matter that is with us for a long time if no solution is found.
Thus, NAFU SA concerns are the following:
1. This situation is of great concern to NAFU SA in the protection of the interest of the farmers we serve and the sector. Especially, as farm evictions play out in a complexity of dynamics were the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society are the key victims, who are evicted without prior notice and at times in the most inhumane manner that poses human rights questions.
2. The gendered nature of the evictions concerns the union whose effort towards women empowerment is central
3. Further reports show that farm evictions are not abating but increasing and continuing
4. the complexity of legislation on evictions and it porosity in allowing for urgent evictions makes evictions swift and lack of adherence to any procedure and any other requirements of thought around alternative accommodation
5. On the side of emerging farmers, NAFU SA observes The history of our country, that makes the issue of rights and land complex as the procedural requirements are not clear cut and often there is an overlap of rights and laws - the issue of eviction must not be placed solely in the hands of the "goodwill" of the farmer but clear procedure and laws must be in place
Therefore NAFU SA Recommendations are as follows:
The situation requires an urgent holistic approach with realistic actions that would assist:
· Need for information around evictions that is accurate and updated
· Need for voices of farm dwellers and farmers to be heard
· Review and tighten legislature for both occupiers and owners
· Request that the Human Rights Council urges the nation to adhere to the call of the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing for a moratorium on evictions and until all national, provincial and local legislation, policies and administrative actions
· Implementation of well resourced programme for information and awareness around evictions and related issues of land rights
· Create new sustainable settlements in farming areas, for example the idea of agri-villages .
· The issue of land tenure and labour rights must be separated .
· The farming landscape must change to accommodate different types of settlements and other viable economic alternatives
· There is need to restrict the practice of seeking urgent eviction orders without prior and full exploration of all alternatives such as suitable accommodation and without giving adequate notice to those to be evicted.