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Still searching for security: The reality of farm dweller evictions in South Africa

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This is the only quantification evictions from farms post-Apartheid in South Africa. It is based on a national survey that establishes the number of people displaced form farms, the number evicted and the impacts on their lives. Close to one million black South Africans were evicted from farms in the first ten years after the advent of democracy.
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... While state support to agriculture began to be phased out in the 1980s due to international pressure (specifically from the World Trade Organization), the post-1994 governments significantly stepped up deregulation because they no longer viewed state support to white farmers as politically acceptable (Wegerif et al. 2005). By 2010, South African state support to agriculture-measured by the producer support estimate (PSE)-stood at 3%. ...
... It seems more likely that the combined effect of a strengthening rand, the European recession and the floods of 2008 created a proverbial tipping point following sustained pressure on producers due to accompanying changes in public and private regulation. Wegerif et al. (2005) have argued that key triggers for worker evictions are farm consolidation, adverse weather conditions and regulatory changes. All three of these factors were present between 2008 and 2012. ...
... Evictions from farms during this period are highly likely to have occurred. Yet, it has also been argued that one of the major eviction waves happened much earlier, from 1996 to 1997, as farmers pre-emptively forced workers out before ESTA was even promulgated (Wegerif et al. 2005). For instance a local farmer, who chose to remain anonymous, said he bought farms in the early 1990s and demolished all the worker houses because accommodation had become 'such a headache. ...
Book
Development largely depends on how given places participate in global economic processes.The contributions to this book address various features of the integration of sub-Saharan Africa into the world economy via value chains, so as to explain corresponding challenges and opportunities. The book deals with five issues that have not been covered adequately in scientific debates: first, policies are essential to promote value chains and increase their impact on development; second, value chains are diverse, and the variance between them has major economic and political implications; third, regional value chains appear to constitute a viable alternative to global ones (or, at least, are complementary to them), promising better developmental outcomes for the Global South; fourth, political and socio-economic factors are important considerations for a complete assessment of value chains; fifth, cities and city regions are also crucial objects of study in seeking to achieve a comprehensive assessment of value chains.
... While state support to agriculture began to be phased out in the 1980s due to international pressure (specifically from the World Trade Organization), the post-1994 governments significantly stepped up deregulation because they no longer viewed state support to white farmers as politically acceptable ( Wegerif et al. 2005). By 2010, South African state support to agriculture-measured by the producer support estimate (PSE)-stood at 3%. ...
... It is unclear what exactly drove this expansion, but the combined effect of in-migration and the eviction of workers off farms no doubt contributed to it. 6 Wegerif et al. (2005) have argued that key triggers for worker evictions are farm consolidation, adverse weather conditions and regulatory changes. All three of these factors were present between 2008 and 2012. ...
... Yet, it has also been argued that one of the major eviction waves happened much earlier, from 1996 to 1997, as farmers pre-emptively forced workers out before ESTA was even promulgated ( Wegerif et al. 2005). For instance a local farmer, who chose to remain anonymous, said he bought farms in the early 1990s and demolished all the worker houses because accommodation had become 'such a headache. ...
Chapter
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Tanzania’s Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor (SAGCOT) is a role-model economic growth corridor (EGC). It aims at easing the incorporation of smallholder farmers into global and regional value chains through partnerships with larger agricultural companies. EGCs in general and SAGCOT in particular are not only about upgrading infrastructure. They in fact address numerous challenges to local producers, including the lack of finance and knowledge relating to markets and production as well as their low bargaining power in global value chains (GVCs). This chapter starts with a summary of the conceptual literature on GVCs, of global production networks as well as of Kaplinsky’s understanding of power dynamics within GVCs. The authors then assess SAGCOT, showing how the initiative seeks to address existing inequalities and unfavourable power dynamics in GVC development. Potential challenges that SAGCOT faces are discussed, and corresponding policy recommendations given.
... Without a doubt, the effect will differ from country to country and may be pervasive in some, as noted by an Advisory Panel set up to guide the government on the expropriation proposal [19]. For instance, the Panel deplores the continuing deprivations faced by the black population on account of the enduring legacy of land dispossession through forced removals and various coercive and repressive actions by the erstwhile Apartheid regime in South Africa [19,20]. It would seem that, regardless of the form that land dispossession takes, be it the communist collectivization process implemented in Slovenia [21], or the forced removals in South Africa, it almost always results in the arrested development of one group or the other as a consequence of the inequalities it engenders. ...
Article
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The economic farm-size–efficiency relationship for maize remains unclear. A question that has yet to be answered conclusively is whether farm size affects productivity. The debate on land-appropriation-without-compensation ultimately revolves around the optimal land size and conditions under which farmers can benefit from a more rational utilization of available land. As important as the farm-size–efficiency debate is, it has not received much attention since the launch of the land reform programme. Again, the farm sizes examined in the previous studies reflected large-scale commercial agriculture and were mainly in relation to wheat production rather than the dietary staple of maize. This paper applied parametric efficiency measures under alternative distributional assumptions to data generated from 267 maize-farming households, to understand the economic farm-size–efficiency relationships and their determinants. It emerged that, while farm size is a key determinant of economic efficiency in maize production, its effect on technical efficiency is still contested. Findings suggest that farmer support should be prioritized, and the government’s efforts to make farmers more productive should emphasize gender equity and optimal use of land.
... Landlessness and land poverty constitute a growing crisis. Many of those affected still depend on land for their livelihoods and often work as temporary, vulnerable, and underpaid laborers in agri-business where they are in a weak negotiating position as they have no options left for independent production [78][79][80]. A study in five African countries revealed that roughly a quarter of agricultural households were virtually landless, controlling less than 0.1 hectares per person [81]. ...
Article
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Land related inequality is a central component of the wider inequality that is one of the burning issues of our society today. It affects us all and directly determines the quality of life for billions of people who depend on land and related resources for their livelihoods. This paper explores land inequality based on a wide scoping of available information and identifies the main trends and their drivers. A wider conceptualization of what constitutes land inequality is suggested in response to shifts in how power is concentrated within the agri-food system. Land inequality is the difference in the quantity and value of land people have access to, the relative strengths of their land tenure rights, and about the appropriation of value derived from the land and its use. More data gathering and research needs to be done to better understand and monitor land inequality. Despite data limitations, what can be seen globally is a growing concentration of land in larger holdings leaving the majority of farmers, along with indigenous people and other communities, with less land. As importantly, elites and large corporations are appropriating more of the value within the agri-food sector, leaving farmers and workers with a shrinking proportion of the value produced. A framework is offered to explain the self-perpetuating nature of land inequalities that involve the mutually reinforcing concentration of both wealth and power. This is an unsustainable situation that can only be effectively addressed through challenging the fundamental drivers of accumulation by the few.
... At the same time, a radical restructuring of agricultural labour relations was occurring to the detriment of farm workers, whose livelihood insecurity was compounded by a shift away from a permanent labour force living on farms towards hiring of seasonal and casual labourers. Almost three million people were forcibly evicted from farms and relocated to rural towns between 1950 and 2004 (Wegerif et al. 2005) from where they were re-employed as casual or seasonal farm workers, but on significantly worse terms and conditions than before. A study in Rawsonville, Western Cape found that two-thirds of residents of the informal settlement of Spooky Town were evicted farm workers (Women on Farms Project 2011). ...
Article
Commercial farm workers in South Africa endured centuries of exploitation and abuse until the 1990s, when progressive legislation was promulgated that confers rights to workers aimed at improving their living and working conditions, including through a sector-specific statutory minimum wage. However, violations of labour rights are widespread in the agriculture sector, and farm workers are arguably more vulnerable than before as they face ongoing evictions, casualisation and exploitation. This research study, conducted among women farm workers in the Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces, documents labour rights violations in the areas of wages and contracts and occupational health and safety. Apart from farmers themselves, government is responsible for failing to enforce compliance with pro-worker legislation, while trade unions have failed to represent farm workers and hold farmers and government to account.
... In post-apartheid South Africa, the state has attempted to formalize farm dwellers' land rights through, for instance the Extended Security of Tenure Act (ESTA) of 1997. Several authors, however, have argued that the introduction of the Act, in combination with the withdrawal of financial state support to agriculture, had rather negative impacts on farm dwellers' abilities to access to land on commercial farms (Hall 2007;Wegerif, Russell, and Grundling 2005). At the same time, heightened exposure of farmers to competition in global agricultural markets, combined with new labor legislation and land reform results in anxiety among white land owners concerning their abilities to hold on to the land (Fraser 2007; see also Brandt 2013;Josefsson 2014). ...
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This contribution analyses the impacts of conversions of commercial – mainly white-owned – farms to wildlife-based production on access to land for farm workers and dwellers in South Africa. They depended on informal arrangements with landowners for access, hence the notions of ‘abilities to access’ and ‘bundles of power’ are more appropriate concepts to analyze their access than bundles of rights. In post-apartheid South Africa, the state attempted to formalize farm dwellers’ land rights, but simultaneously deregulated the agricultural sector, which stimulated land concentration and land investments, and changed social relations on commercial farms. These contradictory interventions impact negatively on farm dwellers’ abilities to access to land on commercial farms. The paper furthermore demonstrates that conversions to wildlife-based production constitute one response by landowners to the changes in the agricultural sector, but also play a role in struggles about identity and belonging in post-apartheid South Africa.
Chapter
The past four years have seen fierce debates over a radical proposal aimed at speeding up the redistribution of land in South Africa—the expropriation of privately-owned land without the payment of compensation. The proposal and its reception must be located within the complex politics of land in the post-apartheid era, in a context where land reform is widely seen as failing to live up to its promise. The notion that ‘expropriation without compensation’ (EWC) offers a simple solution to the many problems facing land reform in South Africa is critically assessed and found wanting. To address the wider problems of land reform and ensure that it’s potential is realized, the state must address other key aspects of policy—beyond simply land acquisition and its cost. These include specifying the socio-political purposes of land reform, intended beneficiaries, anticipated impacts on livelihoods, the nature of land rights to be held by beneficiaries, and building capacity for effective implementation. But government is unlikely to do so on its own accord; sustained pressure ‘from below’, exerted by potential beneficiaries themselves as well as their allies in civil society and the state, will be required. Popular politics is thus key to the prospects for appropriate and effective land policy in South Africa.
Chapter
This chapter combines the approaches of global production networks and global value chains, so as to explain recent protests by farmworkers in the Western Cape. It is highlighted how private and public governance by lead firms from the fresh-fruit sector and the South Africa government contributed to social tension in the indigent community of De Doorns. The author shows how economic upgrading in De Doorns has been accompanied by social downgrading. She explains that the ability of the state to increase the minimum wage for farmworkers is constrained by the unequal distribution of bargaining power between domestic fresh-fruit producers and retailers from overseas: the former cannot increase their value capture, but this would be necessary to compensate for substantially higher wages, as demanded by farmworkers. From a conceptual perspective, this chapter demonstrates that it is critical to include labour as a unit of analysis when assessing upgrading in value chains.
Article
Farm workers employed on commercial farms are among the poorest and most food insecure population groups in South Africa. This study investigated formal (organisational) and informal exchange relations and the association with food security within ego (N = 561) and whole networks (N = 54) among farm workers and their households on three commercial farms. All households were food insecure, with mildly food insecure actors (n = 22) showing significantly smaller-sized networks with regard to total number of ties and food exchange ties compared to moderately food insecure actors (n = 32). Informal exchange networks were largely kin-related and characterised by low economic status, located within a 50 km radius. While these networks represented an important strategy to cope with food insecurity, farm workers lack bridging ties to actors (individuals or institutions) outside the farm who may enable access to information and opportunities to mobilise resources towards enhancing food security and livelihoods in the long term. Shop owners and farm owners occupy a central position in the networks, highlighting dependency and ongoing paternalistic structures. This study contributes empirical data to the scarce literature on network analysis in the context of food security in South Africa, providing in-depth insights on a population that is formally employed, but remains poor, marginalised and forgotten in contemporary debates on food and nutrition security. Efforts to implement existing policies remain crucial to enable farm workers to access resource-rich networks, including socially more advantaged actors or organisations, in order to achieve better livelihoods outcomes.
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This article offers a critique of the presuppositions of the recommendations put forward in the World Bank's ‘Options for Land Reform and Rural Restructuring in South Africa’ 1993. It examines the documents which informed the proposals; the adequacy of their accounts of the experiences, notably of land reforms in Kenya, on which they draw; the strength of their evidence and arguments, particularly regarding agricultural performance and policies; and the feasibility and purposes of their proposals for land redistribution. It argues that the World Bank proposals rest on misleading intellectual foundations. The World Bank's analyses regarding the relative (in)efficiency of large‐scale farming in South Africa with respect to scale of production, factor productivity and prices are not supported by much of the evidence they cite. Their proposals revived aspects of the thinking behind the Swynnerton and Tomlinson reports of the 1950s. Government programmes to develop black farmers in South Africa in the late 1980s followed the approach of the World Bank's unsuccessful agricultural development projects elsewhere in Africa. The ‘surprisingly small’ cost of the World Bank's land reform proposals depend on unrealistic assumptions ‐and proved to be well beyond the resources available to the new government.
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The Land Claims Court of South Africa (‘the LCC’) was established in 1996 under the Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994, one of the first statutes of the new democratic government. Anyone reading the Restitution Act would have had no doubt that the LCC had been established to oversee the reversal of eighty years of state-orchestratedlandd ispossession. Andyet, almost ten years after its establishment, the LCC plays no meaningful role in the landrestitut ion process, and administers two other statutes that, at least in part because of the way they have been interpretedb y the Court, are regardedas as ‘facilitating’ a new wave of land dispossession. In seeking to explain this anomaly, this article draws on the work of a group of scholars who are studying the role of courts in new democracies. The study design assumes that the capacity of courts to be used as agents of social transformation is influenced by a number of indicators, including institutional indicators, indicators of poor groups’ voice, resource indicators, and indicators of access to justice barriers. What makes the study of the LCC interesting from this perspective is that it provides an opportunity to eliminate most of the variables that typically condition the social transformation performance of courts, viz indicators of poor groups’ voice, resource indicators and access to justice barriers. If the theoretical model tested in this article is sound, this means that the performance of the LCC must be explicable in terms of one or more of the positedinstitutional indicators. Testing this hypothesis, the article examines four areas of law in which plausible pro-poor arguments were made before the LCC, only for these arguments to be rejected or ignored in the decisions handed down. The article then attempts to explain these ‘antipoor’ outcomes by reference to three institutional indicators: the doctrinal force of the common law, the influence of legal culture, andprofessional concerns amongst the judges about how their decisions are perceived. The article finds that the continuing influence of legal formalism in South African professional legal culture provides an adequate explanation for most of the decisions studied. Where a legal culture is overwhelmingly formalist, the use of general, discretion-conferring language in social transformation statutes is likely to be less successful than the enactment of detailed, prescriptive rules.