Cosatu to help farmers get land ‘expropriated without compensation’ by King Mswati

Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi gives the closing remarks at the 13th National Congress held at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, 20 September 2018. Picture: Neil McCartney

The eSwatini government allegedly forced farmers to sign a document effectively handing over the rights to the land to a company controlled by the Swazi royal family.

Cosatu President Zingiswa Losi is to help Swazi sugarcane farmers get their land back from King Mswati III, according to a recent Kenworthy News Media report.

Losi’s promise followed a meeting with the sugarcane farmers, from Vuvulane, Mafucula and Shewula in Manzini, in early December, according to a Monday report in Swazimedia Blogspot.

During their meeting, the Cosatu president was updated on the alleged ongoing evictions and harassment of the farmers by the Royal Swaziland Sugar Company and the Swaziland Sugar Association, both organisations controlled by King Mswati.

Sicelo Vilane, the Secretary-General of the Media Workers Union of Swaziland who was present at the meeting, said the Cosatu president made a promise to meet with the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland to look at how the farmers could be helped.

“She expressed and offered the solidarity of Cosatu and the Southern African Trade Union Co-ordination Council to all the communities who are being subjected to such inhuman treatment,” Vilane said.

Prominent member of the Vuvulane Farmers Association Mpisi Dlamini detailed to Losi how he and other farmers had been given their land in Vuvulane in 1963 by the Colonial (now Commonwealth) Development Corporation (CDC), the Swazimedia Blogspot reported.

“They had produced sugarcane which was milled by the Mhlume Sugar Mill until 1981 when CDC resolved to transfer the land ownership to them,” said Vuvulane.

CDC approached King Mswati III’s father, King Sobhuza II, to hand over the title deeds to the farmers, but unfortunately, the king passed away before the process was finalised, said Vilane.

The government subsequently forced the farmers to sign a document a few years later, effectively handing over the rights to the land to a company controlled by the Swazi royal family – despite a ruling by Swaziland’s High Court in favour of the farmers.

And the land has remained in the hands of the royal family ever since.

Furthermore, according to the report, the government and the country’s sugar corporations have been harassing, evicting and forcefully relocating the sugarcane farmers without compensation to make way for sugar cane fields controlled by Mswati.

An Amnesty International report in September described two cases of forced and unlawful evictions without warning. One in the Malkerns, where 60 people were evicted in April, and one in Nokwane, where 180 people were evicted in October 2014.

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