Landless Peoples Movement

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The Landless People's Movement outside the Constitutional Court, 14 May 2009

The Landless People's Movement is an independent social movement in South Africa. It consists of rural people and people living in shack settlements in cities.[1] The Landless People's Movement boycotts parliamentary elections[2] and has a history of conflict with the African National Congress.[3] The Landless People's Movement is affiliated to Via Campesina[4] internationally and its Johannesburg branches to the Poor People's Alliance in South Africa.


On 24 July 2001 provincial representatives of local landless formations met with regional organisations to unite their grievances and collectively seek change to relieve their struggles. The Landless People's Movement was formed out of this meeting[5]

Its stated aims were to:

  • To strengthen the capacity of the rural landless to organise effectively and advocate for themselves
  • To speed up land reform and hold the government to account on their promises
  • To draw on a wider South/South network to support initiatives of landless people in South Africa
  • To develop public awareness nationally and internationally about the needs of rural landless communities in South Africa[6]

The movement was initially formed and support by an NGO, the National Land Committee (NLC), but in 2003 it broke with the NLC and has since operated autonomously.[7]

On 13 November 2003 the movement issued a Memorandum to then President Thabo Mbeki asking "why is development brought to us through guns and the terror" and demanding an immediate halt to all evictions on farms and from urban squatter camps.[8]

In 2008 the Protea South branch in Johannesburg won a landmark court order against the city of Johannesburg.[9]

The Landless People's Movement has been successful in linking the commonalities between both rural and urban land dispossession.[1]

Branches in Giyani townships and villages in Limpopo province South Africa are as follows.

  • Hlaneki village
  • Maswanganyi village
  • Mbatlo village
  • Phikela village
  • Ngove village
  • Giyani D1, Kremetart and section E townships
  • Thomo village
  • Mageva village
  • Babangu village
  • Silawa village

Branches in Johannesburg[edit]

The Johannesburg Landless Peoples' Movement currently has branches in the following shack settlements:

  • Protea South
  • Harry Gwala
  • Freedom Park
  • Thembelihle
  • Precast
  • Lawley
  • Protea Glen

State repression[edit]

In April 2004 57 members of the movement were arrested on election day for marching under the banner of 'No Land! No Vote!'.[10][11] Some of the arrested activists were subject to torture[12][13] and this was later taken up in court action against the police.[14]

In September 2007 the Freedom of Expression Institute reported that at a peaceful protest by the Landless People's Movement:

"SAPS members fired at random towards the protesters, leaving the pavement covered with the blue casings of rubber bullets. Police also deployed a helicopter and water cannon, and we saw at least two officers using live ammunition. One Protea South resident, Mandisa Msewu, was shot in the mouth by a rubber bullet, and several other residents were attended to by paramedics due to police violence."[15]

In February 2009 the movement reported that eight Landless People's Movement activists from Protea South were arrested following a peaceful protest.[16]

The movement claims to have been subject to severe repression in Johannesburg in 2010,[17] including arrest, arson and murder.[18][19] Also in 2010 one of the movement's activists, Terrance Mbuleo (33), was murdered by middle class vigilantes in Soweto.[20]

Poor People's Alliance[edit]

In September 2008 the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, together with Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Johannesburg branches of the Landless People's Movement and the Rural Network (Abahlali basePlasini) in KwaZulu-Natal formed the Poor People's Alliance.[21][22] The poor people's alliance refuses electoral politics under the banner 'No Land! No House! No Vote!'.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bhambra, Gurminder; Robbie Shilliam, eds. (2009). Silencing Human Rights. New York City: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 230–232. ISBN 0-230-22276-5. OCLC 784531812. 
  2. ^ The Jacob Zuma Cargo Cult and the “Implosion” of Alliance Politics, by Michael Schmidt, Anarkismo, 2009
  3. ^ The seed of a new opposition?Business Day, 7 February 2011
  4. ^ World Social Forum – Thursday 10 February, The Guardian
  5. ^ Habib, Adam; Imraan Valodia (2006). Voices of Protest Social Movements in Post-apartheid South Africa. New York City: University of Kwazulu Natal. p. 133. ISBN 1-86914-089-3. 
  6. ^ "The Landless of South Africa". War on Want. 
  7. ^ "Crisis in South Africa Land Reform Movement". Land Action. 
  8. ^ "Memorandum To President Thabo Mbeki". Land Action. 
  9. ^ "Landless Peoples' Movement Protea South". Abahlali baseMjondolo. 
  10. ^ "LPM Members Arrested on Election Day". Land Action. 
  11. ^ "2005 Annual Report on South Africa". Amnesty International. Archived from the original on 29 November 2008. 
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 November 2007. Retrieved 2 November 2008. 
  13. ^ Dissent Under Thabo Mbeki[permanent dead link], Jane Duncan, May 2011
  14. ^ FXI welcomes opening of trial in Landless Peoples' Movement torture case, Freedom of Expression Institute, 2005
  15. ^ "Police repression in Protea South an indicator of a national trend". Freedom of Expression Institute. 
  16. ^ 8 Landless People's Movement Comrades Under Arrest in Johannesburg
  17. ^ Political tolerance on the wane in South Africa, Imraan Buccus, SA Reconciliation Barometer, September 2010
  18. ^ Independent Report into Political Violence Against the Landless People's Movement, International Alliance of Inhabitants, 2010
  19. ^ Landless People’s Movement Activist Killed by Police in Johannesburg Archived 11 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine., People of Color Organize, 2010
  20. ^ To Be Betrayed By Your Brother, Rosaleen Ortiz, City University of New York, 2010
  21. ^ The Struggle for Land & Housing in Post-Apartheid South Africa by Toussaint Losier, Left Turn, January 2009
  22. ^ 'Participatory Society: Urban Space & Freedom', by Chris Spannos, Z-Net, 29 May 2009 Archived 6 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ The alliance, and its position on electoral politics, is mentioned in the speech by S'bu Zikode at