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Cosatu threaten strike against farm evictions

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Cosatu and affiliated groups has vowed that if illegal evictions are not stopped soon, they will proceed with renewed strikes on Western Cape farm towns. The evictions comes after the announcement made by Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti regarding land reform.

At a press conference on Tuesday, the group said they want illegal evictions to end and a moratorium put in place to protect the rights of farmworkers.
Cosatu’s provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich says there is no doubt that this is a vicious attack against farmworkers.

“This is line with what has become a trend with farmers across the Western cape and across the country,” added Ehrenreich.

Minister Gugile Nkwinti’s  last month announced that land reform resolutions adopted at the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung in 2012 would be implemented. Among the resolutions was that farm labourers would own half the land on which they worked.

This would be “proportional to their contribution to the development of the land, based on the number of years they had worked on the land”.

Government intended paying for the workers’ 50% share. The money would not be paid to the farm owner, but go into an investment and development fund, to be jointly owned by the parties constituting the new ownership regime.

Ehrenreich said while want to work together with farm owners, they will not tolerate and stand the abuse of farmworkers. He urged farmworkers to unite and to defend their rights to occupy the land until they have dealt with the issue of land reform in a responsible and fair manner.

Plaaswerkers SA deputy chairperson and farmworker, Daantjie Swart said the issue that he has raised is an everyday pain many farmworkers has to deal with.

He said that the 50\50 land reform issue is one of the biggest headaches facing them as they are now being manipulated and threatened by farmers.
Swart said that the workers are afraid live in constant fear of being evicted if any of them dare to exercise their rights in anyway.

ANC leader in the Western Cape Marius Fransman said that a moratorium must be put in place until land reform has been dealt with. He goes on to say that if these kinds of evictions continue they will have to take the necessary action against those famers who persists illegal evictions on farmworkers.

Bawusa general secretary Nosy Pieterse said the union will remain steadfast in their support for farmworkers. He said they are concerned with the manner in which many are being evicted.

“No single farmer has been arrested or charged for illegal evictions and courts are granting eviction orders without concern of the effects that it may have on those living on the land and where those who are evicted will be living,” said Pieterse.

He said they will defend those and the houses they are living in from being evicted, and will “use any and all mean possible”. VOC (Imogen Vollenhoven )

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