Stop rural slavery! Respect the farmworkers!
(Maputo 14th January 2013) – During the month of November last year, the
world watched farmworkers strikes, particularly those working in
vinyards, in the Western Cape Province, in South Africa. They were
protesting against exploitation and poor working and living conditions
on farms, demanding an increase in minimum wages. In many cases, South
African police responded to the demonstrations with violence and
intolerance and showed no respect for laws. Many farmworkers and
activists were arrested, including peasants of The Agrarian Reform for
Food Sovereignty Campaign, a member of La Via Campesina.
After dubious negotiations that halted the strikes in December, the
South African government has refused to make any change to the minimum
wage and the situation has remained unchanged. Early this January
farmworkers resumed the strikes and are being heavily repressed by police.
Since the strikes began, South African civil society organizations have
denounced the fact that owners of the farms and the police were acting
in close concertation to repress the striking workers; they benefited
from a high level of impunity. It also appears obvious that the owners
of the farms are continuing to pour racist and sexist insults on
The farmworkers strike in South Africa has to be seen as an African
movement of the rural poor protesting against injustice and explotation.
The agricultural sector in South Africa employs not only South African
citizens. Many of the farmworkers working in bad conditions are migrant
workers: men and women from neighboring countries such as Mozambique,
Zimbabwe and Malawi. These farmworkers are sometimes the most affected
by the owners of the farms, who take advantage ofthe fact that they are
in many cases working illegally and without social protection. South
African commercial farming is the most powerful on the continent; it
flourishes at the expense of the oppression and exploitation of
These strikes are also the result of government's failure to implement
land reform in South Africa. The 30 per cent of land distribution that
was promised by 2015 is very far from being implemented. In fact, in
2013 it is now100 years since a Land Act that dispossessed millions of
people from the land and turned them into the super-exploited
farmworkers and the South African proletariat,was constitutedin 1913.
These strikes are acry of”*/Enough is enough/!*” of 100 years of rural
The African region of the International Peasant´s Movement, La Via
Campesina, declares their support and solidarity with the farmworkers in
South Africa and condemns all forms of violence perpetuated by the South
African Police and government against all farmworkers and activists. We
join the voice of South African civil society organizations and demand
that the South Africa government take active steps to listen to and act
on the call of the agricultural workers who are demanding a living wage
and a life of dignity.
Globalize the Struggle, globalize the Hope!
Contacts for more information and solidarity:
Petrus Brink, Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign
(+27) 761 534 627 — Mobile
Cape Town, South Africa
Via Campesina Regional office for Africa
(+258) 21 327 895 – Landline
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com>
La Via Campesina
Via Campesina is an international movement of peasants, small- and
medium-sized producers, landless, rural women, indigenous people, rural
youth and agricultural workers. We are an autonomous, pluralist and
multicultural movement, independent of any political, economic, or other
type of affiliation. Born in 1993, La Via Campesina now gathers about
150 organisations in 70 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.