10 October 2011
The Communist Party of Swaziland’s Red October Land for Food Campaign
The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) is this month launching its first Red October Campaign, which for the next 12 months will seek to focus special attention on the need for land reform to eradicate hunger in our country.
The Land for Food campaign aims to promote access to and the redistribution of land to eradicate hunger in Swaziland and provide food security for all. It particularly aims to agitate for opening up land that is held by the government, the monarchy and monarchic-owned enterprises (such as Tibiyo) to planned and systematic communal use.
The CPS is taking a leaf out of the campaigning strategies of the South African Communist Party by organising its own Red October campaign. October is the month that commemorates the first socialist revolution in the world in Russia in 1917 that, following the defeat of the Paris Commune some 46 years before, showed the world that capitalism and autocracy could successfully be overthrown. Red October is therefore the month of revolutionary renewal and campaign strategising.
The CPS Land for Food Campaign will run until October next year, after which it will be incorporated into the permanent strategic work of the CPS and will be taken forward by a special working group to ensure that the campaign gains and maintains momentum.
Nowhere in the southern Africa region is the nexus between the lack of supported land rights and the existence of hunger and under-nutrition more blatant than in Swaziland.
About 77% of our people live in rural areas, and 76% of the rural population live in poverty. Poverty in urban areas is estimated at about 49%. Altogether about 70% of the total population live in poverty. 40% of households have always suffered food insecurity – which means simply that they have never had enough to eat.
Overall, about 48% of the population do not get enough food to eat – they are undernourished. But only about a quarter of the population receive food aid, which is mainly in the form of mealie meal. Poverty figures by region record that in Shiselweni some 76% of household live below the poverty line, in Lubombo the figure is 73%, in Hhohho 70% and 61% in Manzini. Poverty and food insecurity go hand in hand.
At the same time land use and access to land that is held by the government, the crown and Tibiyo, on the one hand, and open access to all other communal and non-communal land that is held by chiefs is variously restricted. The CPS calls for an end to all such restrictions and for the best of this land to be made available for viable and sustainable food production to eliminate hunger and food security.
In particular we need to target land that has been expropriated by the government, the crown, chiefs, and royal owned enterprises such as Tibiyo to look at what potential such land has for food production.
We will also attempt to carry out a full inventory of land resources to measure the land situation in our country and the potential for revolutionary action to put land in the hands of those who can work it to feed the population.
We need reliable data, for example on the extent of the spread of crown land expropriations. The Land for Food Campaign will seek to work with experts in the area of land management and agriculture to chart the land situation in our country.
Though there is a lack of up to date information, we know that there is sufficient land for Swaziland to feed its people and continue to trade in produce, and that land use is a large part of the answer to the crisis of hunger affecting many of our people.
The CPC Land for Food Campaign will also target the need to train our rural population in sustainable land use, in the most efficient forms of agriculture, and in innovative soil improvement and irrigation techniques. We need to deploy a range of expertise in reversing the degradation of land, through such blights as erosion and soil depletion. And we need to provide skills for our land workers. Unless they are fully equipped to use the land optimally, we will fail to get the best out of it or to dent the crisis of food security.
The problems of our people, the ruinous exploitation they face at the hands of the Mswati autocracy, the massive expropriation of good quality land by the royal family and the tinkhundla chiefs all require that we come up with home grown solutions to bringing freedom to Swaziland. We must put the land into the hands of the people and provide the necessary guidance to ensure that the land feeds the nation.
The Land for Food Campaign will issue background reports on the land situation in our country and what needs to be done to reverse the crisis of food insecurity. It will hold meetings throughout Swaziland to engage rural communities to join the campaign. It will issue leaflets and raise awareness on the need to revolutionise the land situation in our country. And it will link these demands for the end to the monarchic regime and the creation of a democratic dispensation that will be properly equipped to create an integrated food and agricultural strategy to resolve the land question in our country.
The CPS, through this campaign, will also demonstrate maximum support to the eviction threatened communities close to the towns and cities. We are against the municipalisation of land in the peri-urban areas, as a source of disempowering and making vulnerable the working class communities around the towns by taking them off the land. Mswati’s regime aims to further degrade the urban poor squatters by rendering them landless. We must resist this at all costs. The land must be shared among all those who live and work on it.