By Tom Draper
Community members from Newcastle and Dannhauser exhibited shock as we walked through homesteads in Baltimore, in Limpopo. One of the witnesses vowed never again to complain about the living conditions that he faces in his own province of KwaZulu-Natal.
These were scenes as AFRA visited community members in rural Limpopo. In the middle of November 2015 the Nkuzi Development Association, AFRA and their farm dweller community partners, all of whom are part of the Tshintsha Amakhaya alliance, met for a cluster meeting to address similar challenges that they were facing.
Each community member raised issues ranging from electricity, to schools and roads. Glenn Farred, AFRA’s Programmes Manager, guided both the KZN and Limpopo community members to narrow the broad issues they raised down into the three most significant and pressing issues: land, water and housing.
These three ares of need proved to be heavily interlinked to community members, each person seemingly having major challenges around at least one, and it became more and more apparent that the Limpopo farm dwellers faced all three challenges simultaneously.
One of the dwellings visited during the field trip had been waiting for months for the government to finish a borehole and water tank. They had been without water for three weeks.
A temporary settlement in Tolwe has been waiting for seven years for RDP houses. The houses were only now under construction, with 48 houses about to be built.
“Limpopo is definitely a forgotten province, Tolwe and Baltimore especially. It has been neglected. They have forgotten about the schools, healthcare. I don’t think the Councillor even thinks about this area,” said Henry Buys, a concerned community member and the secretary of the SACP.
Buys explained that the many of the land owners are still perpetuating an Apartheid ideology: “They have not moved on, many farmers are still living in the past. They do not value the workers, and when the workers stand up, they hire illegal immigrants from over the border. It’s not right and it’s not fair,” he explained emphatically.
The scenes took time to settle in for many of the KZN community members. However, by the next day the discussions were in full force. The communities established action plans to mobilise the issues they all felt so strongly about.
A WhatsApp group was set up by AFRA so that the Limpopo and KZN farm dwellers could communicate with each other regarding their challenges and successes. Both the KZN farm dwellers face an array of similar and different issues and as they move forward they hope to draw strength and experience from each other.