Land! Food! Jobs! Its Red October in South Africa
This year the South African Communist Party (SACP) has launched a campaign calling on the millions of landless people, the rural poor, rural women, rural youth and farm workers to join the Party's 2004 Red October Campaign. It is a month-long program of action which will involve networking with a range of progressive forces, consultation and popular mobilisation. Party branches will be conducting household surveys in targeted rural and farming areas. We will hold tribunals, forums and mass meetings, and we plan for a culminating National Day of Action for Land, on Saturday, November 6, says a Party statement announcing the campaign. On this day, the Communist Party will lead a national march to the offices of Agri South Africa, the National Departments of Land Affairs and Agriculture, and the Reserve Bank in support of demands for accelerated land and agrarian reform. The primary target of this campaign is commercial agriculture who remain the main beneficiaries of apartheid and colonial land ownership patterns. We demand: * Access to ownership and control of productive land by the landless workers and the poor; * Access to basic services and rights for farm-workers and their families; * A National Land Summit. Mobilise trade unions The Communist Party is to convene a National Consultative Conference on October 15 to mobilise trade unions, civil society, churches, land rights organisations and other stakeholders. The Conference is aimed at mobilising support and endorsement of this campaign by a wide range of social forces. In addition to the National Day of Action, the Communist Party will make a submission to the Parliamentary hearings on the progress of Land Reform scheduled for October 19-20 in the National Assembly. The Party will highlight the importance of food security as part of land and agrarian reform through a World Food Day Celebrations on October 16. In its election manifesto, the ANC together with its alliance partners (the SACP and COSATU) undertook to "speed up land reform, with 30 per cent of agricultural land redistributed by 2014". In the course of our mobilisation campaign, the Party will seek to add impetus to this commitment to speed up the process. The Communist Party makes no apology for demanding that land must be given to the workers and the poor as the principal beneficiaries, says the Party statement. Access to ownership and control of productive land The Communist Party does not support the present willing-buyer willing-seller approach as it subjects land reform to the capitalist market and is not an effective means for achieving the objective of substantive land reform. The Party calls for the underpinning of land restitution and land reform with effective infrastructure, agricultural extension programmes and ongoing assistance. The emphasis on land reform must be to ensure household food security, co-operatives for inputs and marketing, sustainable rural communities and small- scale farming. Whatever prospects there are for smallholder agricultural production in South Africa, they are likely to be curtailed by the existing market-led land reform dispensation. Linked to this is the dominant reading of the property clause in the country's constitution as simply protecting property rights instead of also being read as a mandate for land reform. The state must be more active in acquiring private land for redistribution instead of the current focus on state land disposal. Twenty-five percent of the 87 per cent of land denied to black people since 1913 is state land. State land disposal undermines the strategic role of the state in land usage and ownership. State land disposal also means that ownership by apartheid beneficiaries remains largely untouched. The Communist Party underpins the relevance of sustainable livelihoods and sustainable land and agrarian reform is central to this. Access to relatively small pieces of land for productive purposes is an essential element in the range of survival strategies required by the landless and women in particular. Besides agricultural production, such a strategy could also comprise additional resources of income such as the processing and packaging of agricultural produce, the production and sale of other products, sustainable self-employment based on co- operatives, remittances, etc. Demands For these reasons, we further demand: * Acceleration and consolidation of land reform in favour of farm workers, rural dwellers, rural women, the landless, the workers and the poor; * Access to productive land, resources and credit for household based subsistence and small scale farming in both urban and rural areas; * Provision of unused land by absentee landlords, big farmers, national and provincial government, municipalities, churches and state-owned enterprises; * Land tax for unused land (to provide an incentive to use land more intensively and increase overall supply of land to the market and to reduce land speculation); * An increase of budgets for land and agrarian reform; * Better coordination and integration of land reform and agricultural transformation; * Consolidation of the role of the Land Bank in supporting emerging farmers and, in particular, land-based co-operatives. Notwithstanding the minimum wage determination for farm-workers, and security of tenure legislation, the conditions of workers and their families on the 46,000 commercial farms remain, generally, little changed. We have an abundance of evidence coming from our rural branches of illegal deductions from wages, continued illegal evictions and impounding of workers' livestock, and the general abuse of this sector of the working class and women in particular, says the Party statement. We will use the Red October month to campaign for an end to all forms of violence, victimisation and abuse; an end to child labour, and for free education and health-care for the children of farmer workers. We will also campaign for the extension of Justice Centres into rural areas, and for an increase in Department of Labour resources to more effectively monitor farms. We will hold workers' tribunals and mass meetings with farm workers and farm dwellers starting on the weekend of October 9-10 in all provinces National Land Summit We call for a National Land Summit within the next 12 months to bring together government, farm workers, landless people, rural women, landowners and agricultural capital in order to: * review land and agrarian reform since 1994; * agree on specific measures and policies to accelerate land and agrarian reform; * review policy on foreign land ownership. In the immediate period, we call for the empowerment and resourcing of farm workers, rural dwellers, rural women, the landless, the workers and the poor to ensure that they can make their voices, aspirations and interests heard in the Agri-BEE Charter process. In preparation for the National Land Summit, we call for an audit of all land transferred to individuals and communities, through the land reform, in order to establish the real impact on the livelihoods of land reform beneficiaries. The primary question that agricultural capital must be asked at the Summit is: what is their contribution to democracy and development? The Financial Sector Campaign The Red October campaign will be connected to our ongoing financial sector campaign, to ensure that micro-credit is available for effective land reform. We reject the unilateral decision of the financial sector to set targets and amounts for black economic empowerment. We reaffirm our insistence on the democratisation of the finance sector and demand that this funding process be halted until there has been a thorough discussion involving all stakeholders. The Red October Campaign is just a start of ongoing mass mobilisation on land and agrarian reform and an intensification of mass pressure on the financial sector.
* * *Umsebenzi Online — South African Communist Party