LAND Society needs a i
and go! WHYD
FERIAL HAFFAJEE and JOSIAS CHABALALA,
who write for Weekly Mail, report on growing
tensions on the Eastern Transvaal platteland.
P ARANOIA on the platteland is
likely to leave droves of labour
tenants and their families homeless in
breastfeeding mother stares inquisitively.
Christina points proudly to a field of
flourishing mealies, to spinach, toma-
the south-eastern Transvaal. toes, and cabbages all of which are used
The spectre of trade union rights for by the family. A traditional beer brewing
farmworkers and a Land Claims Court hut, a maize storage room, a pen for her
is provoking a "general hysteria" among livestock and five huts complete the
Transvaal farmers, says Ken Margo of scene.
the Transvaal Rural Action Committee. Christina cannot read and she has
And this hysteria is resulting in a spate never been further than Ermelo. Asked
of evictions which started late last year. what she will do, she casts her eyes
heavenward, throws up her hands and
One of those facing eviction is takes another sniff from her snuff bottle. Mary de Haas,
Christina Hlatswayo, a labour tenant on Abraham Dithlake, of the Farm- Department of Social Anthropology,
the farm 'Amakhaya' near Piet Retief workers Research and Resource Project, University of Natal.
(see David Goldblatt's cover picture). believes the reason for the current spate
She takes out a crumpled piece of paper of evictions lies in the fear of land claims
with four lines of spidery writing from is illustrated by a recent article in the
by those labour tenants with generations' journal "Effective Farming": "If you
her mourning dress. Signed by the farmer old tenure.
on whose land she is a tenant, it is her can train, select and motivate workers
Last year, the Abolition of Racially you need not fear trade unions because
'trekpass' — the eviction notice previous- Based Land Measures Act provided for
ly used to allow evicted labour tenants to the teamates on your staff will be more
the setting up of a Land Commission to loyal to you than to any meddlesome
travel without being arrested. consider various land claims. shop steward or politico."
In these post-dompas days, all the Most of the evictions are aimed at Kobus Kleynhans, deputy director of
note means to her is the loss of the land those with the longest tenure, those who the Agricultural Union, says the organi-
she and her family have worked for have burial groundvon the farms, accord- sation has not heard of the evictions. He
fifteen years. ing to Solly Zwane, a representative of said a solution to the crisis was to "enter
The trouble started on Christmas Day the African National Congress in the into a normal service contract" where
last year when her cattle wandered onto Eastern Transvaal. the tenants would be paid wages and in
land through a hole in the fence. They Recently when lawyers asked the turn would rent the land.
trampled part of his mealie field and ate tenants to say what they thought was a Joan Bekkers, a representative of the
stalks. fair solution they replied that they Rural Foundation, an organisation train-
The farmer promptly loaded the cattle wanted to stay on the farm and be ing farmers in community development
onto a van and carted them to a butcher allowed to keep livestock. Not one spoke and labour relations, says the crisis
in Piet Retief. The Dirkiesdorp police about wanting to own the land. stems from the fact that many farmers
intervened and transported the cattle to Parliament may pass legislation this are moving from a labour tenant relation-
a pound in Ermelo. After paying almost session, which will grant farmworkers ship to a wage relationship.
R1500 and a further R300 in transport the protection and rights of the Labour Transvaal Rural Action Committee's
costs, Christina got the cattle back, but Relations and Basic Conditions of Ken Margo says that the breakdown of
four were missing. Employment Act. Farmers fear trade the traditional baasskap relationship
In February the farmer gave her her unionism growing among farmworkers. between farmer and worker, increased
trekpass — three months to get off the Boy Nzimande, whose grandfather mechanisation and the fact that tracts of
land. was born on the farm he must soon land are being sold to forestry com-
Way off the beaten track, you reach leave, says that the farmer told him to panies are also reasons for the evictions.
her compound via a maze of dirt roads "go and report the matter to the Cosatu" Odette Geldenhuys, of the Legal
and roughly constructed fences. From when he complained . According to the Resources Centre, says the only long-
the five houses, small children come tenants, no unions operate on the farms term solutions to the eviction problem is
running out to greet her. Young men set they work on. "for us, as lawyers, to make representa-
out chairs for us. In the background, a The attitude of farmers to trade unions tions to the land commission". •