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RWA South Africa: Mobilising for Change: RWA South Africa Takes a Stand for Land Rights

In a bold move that echoed the struggles of rural communities, the Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) and allied organisations, including the Mawubuye Land Rights Forum, CSSAWU, and the Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE), participated in a protest march coinciding with the Western Cape State of the Province address on Monday, 19 February 2024, from 4 pm to 8 pm in Paarl. This marked a crucial moment for our partner movements as we united to spotlight our demands on issues of land, evictions, water, and climate crises in the region.

Demands Echoed in the Protest:

1. Access to Land for Women: At the forefront of the demands was a call for every woman to have access to at least one hectare of land, complete with sufficient water resources. This demand aimed to address the glaring inequality faced by rural women who are often the backbone of agriculture but were left unsupported in the face of the climate crisis.

2. Ending Farm Worker Evictions: A critical demand included putting an end to the daily evictions faced by scores of farmworkers and dwellers, particularly in commercial farming areas. The call was to expropriate land for farmworkers, ensuring their rights and security.

3. Climate Adaptation and Disaster Relief: Recognizing the vulnerability of smallholder farmers to the climate emergency, the movement demanded increased funding for climate adaptation, mitigation, and disaster relief measures.

4. Access to Communal and Commonage Land: The call to make communal and commonage land available in every municipality was an essential step to counter the trend of selling or leasing such lands to the highest commercial bidders.

5. Monitoring Farm Worker Equity Schemes: The demand for better monitoring mechanisms for farm worker equity schemes aimed to ensure that the intended beneficiaries truly benefited and were not subjected to unjust evictions.

6. Halt the Sale of Communal and Commonage Land: Highlighting the problematic practice of selling communal and commonage land, the movement demanded an immediate stop to this practice, emphasising the need to prioritise such lands for the poor.

7. Inclusion of Rural Women in Decision-Making: Acknowledging the pivotal role of rural women in agriculture, the movement called for the active inclusion of rural women in municipal decision-making processes.

As we mobilised for the protest, we encouraged communities to organise in their respective areas to challenge the Western Cape government’s policies and practices. The protest served as a platform to amplify the voices of the marginalised rural dwellers, farmworkers, smallholder farmers, landless women, and youth who had been grappling with systemic challenges for far too long. 

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