WE DON’T SUPPORT A MORATORIUM ON LEGAL FARMWORKER EVICTIONS – ASUF
Statement issued by Japie Grobler, ASUF Chairman, November 3, 2014
Japie Grobler says this would, from an agricultural and legal perspective, be undesirable, unpractical and non-enforceable:
ASUF’s VIEWS ON FARMWORKER EVICTIONS
The Agriculture Sector Unity Forum (ASUF), comprising of all the national formations of primary agriculture, was invited to participate and address a meeting held under the auspices of deputy president, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, on Saturday, 1 November 2014 in Paarl. At this meeting ASUF, represented by its chairman Mr Japie Grobler and Ms Annelize Crosby, highlighted issues relevant to the context within which agricultural development and the upliftment of farmworkers and their families should be addressed.
The focus of discussions was, however, on evictions of farm workers and rural dwellers from farms.
ASUF did not, as reported in the media, endorse the call by Mr Ramaphosa on farmer organisations to impose a voluntary moratorium on farmworker evictions. Although his call might have referred to stopping illegal evictions, to which all parties would agree, it probably included legal evictions – an instrument also available to and used by the state to manage untenable tenure arrangements on its own properties.
A call for a moratorium on the application of the statute in terms of which legal evictions are regulated seems, from an agricultural and legal perspective to be undesirable, unpractical and non-enforceable. The required concessions, therefore, fall outside the mandates of ASUF’s members.
ASUF wants to reiterate that evictions are governed by legislation and compliance is mandatory. Contraventions, namely illegal evictions, should be dealt with accordingly. It was proven in the past that timeous mediation may resolve many disputes, avert unnecessary evictions or facilitate acceptable outcomes to those who stand to lose housing on farms.
Whilst a humane approach is imperative when dealing with these matters, there should also be full recognition of compelling circumstances which may necessitate evictions. ASUF is, however, willing to participate in discussions which may contribute towards a mutually acceptable outcome of this discourse and will consult its members regarding proposals.
ASUF did call on Mr Ramaphosa to take the lead with an overarching national initiative which will consolidate processes aimed at the development and transformation of the sector, and more specifically contribute towards the social upliftment of farm worker communities. An inclusive and encompassing process could result in a social accord with a clear vision and value system, giving guidance to government and its social partners on roles and responsibilities with regards to this multi-faceted challenge.