While acknowledging the efforts of many farmers who are working hard to empower disadvantaged groups, land and agriculture minister Lulama Xingwana has once again voiced her concern over the abuse of farmworkers and farm dwellers in South Africa.
Speaking at the launch of the Western Cape branch of Women in Agriculture and Development (Ward) in Stellenbosch recently, Xingwana publicly mourned the murder of farmer and Anglo-Zulu war expert David Rattray as well as that of other farmers in the country, saying that evictions, abuse and violence against people in the agricultural sector must stop.
She added that government has initiated a task team that will specifically focus on attacks and human rights violations in the agricultural sector. Ward is aimed at pursuing the empowerment of women in rural areas, said its president Thami Zimu. “We should not wait for an intervention from government or the private sector. We have to speak [out] and do things for ourselves. We have a responsibility to inform government of our problems, and we have a responsibility to make use of the opportunities and resources offered to us by government,” she said.
The challenges and wide-ranging issues, raised by Ward, that confront rural women will be addressed at the World Congress on Rural Women scheduled to be held from 23 to 26 April in Durban. A ccording to Xingwana, the congress will give the African continent an opportunity to reflect on the progress made with the Millenium Goals of the World Food Summit, which committed all the leaders to halving poverty by 2015. he congress will also consider the Millennium Declaration on Human Rights and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable held in Johannesburg in 2002 in pursuing the rights of women.
They will focus in particular on the right of the development of rural women. – Glenneis Erasmus