BRC was closely involved in the restitution process, lodging a number of betterment claims before the cut-off date of 31 December 1998. It has achieved a positive precedent in this regard through the settling of the Cata claim, through a 50/50 deal where 50% of the settlement was distributed to the village as a cash component and the balance was allocated to broader development. BRC has been facilitating the development process in Cata since 2001. This serves as a major test case for its assertion that rights-based rural development can eradicate poverty.
In the new dispensation, BRC’s work has afforded us the opportunity to mobilise communities to engage with the ANC-led government to reopen land restitution for betterment land removals among others. Through the support of organisations like the Communist Party and COSATU, BRC’s community mobilisation and political engagement ensured successful reopening of restitution claims through BRC’s Vulamasango Singene (VS) campaign. The VS campaign has since become a rural social movement with a membership of approximately 700 communities across 13 municipalities. BRC will, through the VS movement, mobilise, empower and conscientise rural Eastern Cape communities on the dire need to hold the state accountable on service delivery.
Vulamasango Singene is now an independent organisation, registered as a Section 21 Company. It has its own Board of Directors, and its own funding. BRC continues to offer strategic and administrative support to the organisation.
Cata is located in northern Keiskammahoek. It is famous as the precedent-setting betterment land restitution case. The terms of the restitution settlement agreement, 50% of the value of the claim was paid to claimant families. 50% was pooled for development projects. An integrated development plan was drafted to guide the investment, into the village, of the community’s restitution monies. Following the implementation of the plan, there has been a significant improvement to the infrastructure at Cata (roads upgrades, refurbishment of school classrooms, the building of a community hall). The plan emphasises local economic development. Work in this regard is ongoing. These include a tourism project (click here to be directed to the Cata tourism website), an agricultural irrigation project and a forestry project. BRC has been centrally involved in the process, in various capacities such as lobbyist, advisor, municipal-appointed project manager, and so on.
Significant advances have been made in the village since the implementation of the development plan. In 2009, BRC conducted a survey of households in Cata and compared data with the 2001 census figures. The following was found: Employment: Employment rates have increased from 4% in 2001 to 26% in 2007.
Income: The percentage of households with a monthly income of more than R1 600 has increased from 6% in 2001 to 31% in 2007. The percentage of households with no income at all has dropped from 43% in 2001 to 4% in 2007.
Food Security: The percentage of households that are food secure increased from 20% in 2000, to 99% in 2007.
**BRC has, in recent years, de-intensified its work in Cata – focusing more on other Keiskammahoek villages. It still, however, provides strategic advice and training to the Communal Property Association (CPA).