Keiskammahoek

In the period 2000 – 2004, BRC’s main advocacy objective was to change government’s policy position that betterment dispossession did not meet the criteria of the Restitution of Land Rights Act. This was achieved through the signing of the Cata Settlement Agreement in October 2000, and then consolidated by formal policy amendments coupled with the signing of a settlement agreement for all other communal village claims in Keiskammahoek in June 2002. Two challenges arose directly from these victories, namely to conceptualise a model for development in successfully settled betterment cases, and to fight for the right of victims of betterment claimants to lodge restitution claims after the 1998 deadline. BRC regarded success with the former challenge to be essential in relation to being able to rise to the second challenge (which the organisation took on through the ‘Vulamasango Singene’ campaign). The manner in which BRC sought to conceptualise the development model was through the pilot work in Cata, as described above. One of the main limitations of the Cata pilot is its geographic scale. 

Keiskammahoek agriculture, lucerne irrigation at Upper Gxulu
Keiskammahoek agriculture, lucerne irrigation at Upper Gxulu

 

Since 2002, very little has happened in Keiskammahoek as a result of the settlement of the betterment claims. Unfortunately, the Amatole District Municipality (ADM), which is responsible for the development process that is supposed to have arisen from the agreement, has failed to carry out this task effectively.  

Until mid-2008, BRC remained committed to attempting to support the official ADM-led development process. But after the municipality adopted a very weak development plan against the advice of BRC, it decided to contrive and pursue a ‘plan b’. The alternative process prioritises local institution building and economic planning, and insists on a close link between planning and implementation. In 2008, BRC was able to raise money to initiate economic planning in northern Keiskammahoek (Gxulu and Mnyameni) in close collaboration with the village development committees, and began the process of implementing some of the planned projects in 2009, without municipal involvement.  

Keiskammahoek environmental work (removal of alien vegetation, Mnyameni River)
Keiskammahoek environmental work (removal of alien vegetation, Mnyameni River)

 

BRC remains convinced that practice/ demonstration is an important advocacy tool. Praxis is a key component of BRC’s strategic armoury because it is often an effective way to win advocacy gains. There is only so much usefulness in engaging in debates and discussions about appropriate development models; as BRC’s experience in Cata shows, a lot more can be gained by ‘making the path by walking’.

Work in Keiskammahoek currently includes two cooperative agricultural projects and environmental work (the clearing of alien invasive species).