COSATU president meets Vuvulane farmers
OUTSPOKEN first female president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Zingiswa Losi has visited the so-called troubled people of Mafucula, Shewula and Vuvulane to get first-hand information on their alleged victimisation by RSSC and the Swaziland Sugar Association.
The president heard damning allegations on how they were allegedly kicked out of the farms and made to sign agreements which saw them lose their land under pressure.
Speaking on behalf of the Vuvulane farmers was Mpisi Dlamini, who gave what he called a detailed account of how they first settled at Vuvulane Farm Number 680 in 1963. He claimed that 262 families were given portions of the farm by CDC and produced sugarcane which was milled by the Mhlume Sugar Mill until 1981 when CDC resolved to transfer the land ownership to the farmers.
CDC approached His Majesty King Subhuza II to hand over the title deeds to the farmers but unfortunately the king passed away before the process was finalised, claimed Mpisi. He said to them, that was when their problems started and in 1983, the then Liqoqo-led government drafted papers forming a company which stated that 99 per cent share-holding belonged to the Queen Mother and the farmers only had one per cent.
He said farmers were forced to sign those papers under the barrel of a gun. He mentioned that the farmers had been moving from pillar to post to no avail. This happened notwithstanding that the highest court in the land had ruled in their favour.
It was mentioned that Mpisi, because he refused to sign the subordinate papers, was to become the worst victim, so much such that his sugarcane was not milled and all funding institutions refused to give him loans to continue farming. His story was corroborated by one Gogo Ndwandwe who said as Vuvulane farmers, they did not know who would come to their rescue.
The COSATU president was also informed that when Simunye Sugar Company was started, people who had their homes were forcefully settled at Mafucula and Shewula. They were promised that after five years of operation, they would be allowed to return to their land as cane growers. However, that never happened and in 2002 Simunye was changed to RSSC and up to today they are waiting for that promise to be fulfilled.
Losi, the COSATU president, told the farmers that her organisation would meet with TUCOSWA to look at how the farmers could be assisted. She highlighted that many civil wars were as a result of land ownership.
She informed the farmers that workers federations were expected to help solve all socio-economic challenges facing their countries and they subscribed to the principles of solidarity. She expressed and offered COSATU’s solidarity.
FOLLOWING: Some of the Vuvulane farmers listening to COSATU President Zingiswa Losi during her visit.