Recognising that land is not merely a commodity, but is God’s gift to humanity, of which we are the tenants. We therefore long for and are committed to work towards a world where:
- Land is used in a respectful and responsible way by the present generation for the sake of future generations.
- The rural local economy is flourishing, is integral to the broader economy, and is providing attractive opportunities for young people.
- The quality of life of rural people is good.
- All people (especially those marginalized and vulnerable) have access to adequate land and water for housing, grazing and cropping, and have secure rights and access to institutions to validate and enforce these rights.
- There is a diversity of farming in terms of scale, methods, crops and organizational structure.
- Communities are organized, operate in a democratic, responsible and consultative manner, and implement their own development initiatives.
- Strong, unified social movements give effective voice to rural people’s interests.
- Government policy gives priority to rural development, and supports a variety of agricultural models and tenure arrangements.
- Government supports small scale farmers through easily accessible material support, and appropriate training, extension and subsidy schemes.
- Government continues to support people to access land and secure their tenure.
- Commercial farmers and the private sector actively support agrarian transformation and cooperate with small scale producers.
- Small scale farmers have access to existing market structures as well as to new market channels.
To realise the above stated vision, the SACBC Justice and Peace Land Desk will:
- raise awareness within the Church about the need for agrarian transformation and obstacles against its achievement;
- support the Church’s efforts to deal with her land, as a springboard to promote greater awareness and action for land justice;
- work with selected communities on Church land in order to learn about and develop cases of good practice for agrarian transformation;
- engage with social movements of the poor and landless to learn from them and to support them to be stronger and more unified;
- engage with NGOs and other stakeholders in order to advocate for a coherent approach to land and agrarian transformation that serves the interests of the poor;
- use its position as a national initiative to identify relevant issues and trends around the country and promote analytical reflection on such, using workshops, consultations, round-table discussions and publications;
- undertake, encourage and support communities to document their own processes.
Key intervention areas
The land reform programme in South Africa comprises of three components. Our intervention areas are structured around the three components.
First, victims of forced removals need to receive justice in form of restoration of land rights or cash compensation. The first round of restitution ended with a huge backlog of claims because of the capacity problems in the government department. We are working with social movements and local catholic advocacy groups to develop a network that engages the government to address the weak capacity (short staff turnover, staff shortage etc). We also seek to engage the government to increase its budget allocation to land reform to more than 1% fiscal budget.
Second, there is a need to redistribute land to address the unequal ownership of land as the result of discriminatory laws during the apartheid. Such redistribution efforts have focused on creating black commercial farmers. We believe that land redistribution efforts should also focus on small scale producers and should have a strong post-settlement support. In relation to this, we engage the government to increase its budget allocation to agriculture to more than 10%, with a large proportion invested in extension services and infrastructure for small scale producers. We also engage the government to establish subsidization programme for crop insurance to assist farmers to cope with the impacts of climate change. There is a need to shift from the food security model that emphasizes on commercial farming, including public investment in commercial farming and concentration of land ownership in the hands of few commercial farmers. Several dioceses have transferred land to the communities. Such land projects are being used as models to demonstrate the viability and value of our advocacy messages.
Third, there is a need to develop tenure reform process to strengthen the rights of vulnerable groups of people (farm workers, labour tenants, farm dwellers and those living in communal areas in former homelands under traditional chiefs). Government has announced that it seeks to introduce a shareholding mechanism for the farm workers. This has sparked a flesh round of evictions in some of the farms. Some social movements are establishing anti-eviction network to enable the farm dwellers in various parts of the country to organise solidarity resistance when an injustice happens in one of the farms. They are also organizing themselves to bring farm workers perspectives into the emerging policy on the equity share scheme.