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

The Landless People's Movement (LPM) is an independent social movement made up of the poor and landless in South Africa. It represents rural people and people living in shack settlements in cities. The nature of the Landless People's Movement is one that seeks to redefine the fundamental interactions and social relations in society. The interactions run deep and relate to basic human processes with nature, each other, and life in general. It identifies the sources of land dispossession as historical inequalities and land dispossession, and economic policies.[1]

Landless people are those who need land, without distinction for what purpose they need the land. Most of the landless, however, do need it for reasons pertinent to basic lively needs such as housing, farming, and industry. Some of the landless have presented requests for access to land to the government because they no longer can support themselves, and their families, with industrial work pay. The Landless People's Movement of South Africa has focused on appealing to its national government and the interests it stands for, rather than the local councils and city managers.[1]



On July 24, 2001 provincial representatives of the local landless formations met with regional organizations to unite their grievances and collectively seek change in order to relieve their struggles. Increasing Neo-liberal pressure and the negative consequences of increasingly strict monetary policies towards the poor majority of South Africa have created the context from which the movement arose. An additional contributor to the struggle has been the political favoring of the economically prosperous. Reconstruction of economic policies and actions have left the poor fighting large, organized, common interest alliances that have already established agendas on their constructed political platforms. What resulted was a quasi welfare state built upon social policies to prevent economic fallout. For the poor who remain marginalized, the social services provided by the policies prove useless or limited since they are costly.[2]

Its stated aims are 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[3]

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.[4]

On 13 November 2003 the movement issues a Memorandum to then President Thabo Mbeki asking why "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.[5]

In 2008 the Protea South community in Johannesburg won a landmark court order against the city of Johannesburg.[6]

The Landless People's Movement currently is building its infrastructure, leadership and credibility, while coming up with attractive ways of recruiting new members, and establishing mutually beneficial relationships with the local and national governments and other social movements.[7] It has been successful in linking the commonalities between both rural and urban land dispossession to causes such as economic policies that lead to poverty. The privatization of labor and cost-recovery measures that have been instituted have caused many individuals to be unable to pay their rent and housing dues. Thus causing them to be evicted from the apartments and houses in which they live. They have highlighted the struggle as being a process that affects the peoples political identity and labor conditions.[1]

Branches in Johannesburg

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

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

State Repression

In February 2009 the movement reported that eight LPM activists from Protea South were arrested following a peaceful protest.[8]

In April 2004 57 members of the movement were arrested on election day for marching under the banner of 'No Land! No Vote!'. [9].[10] Some of the arrested activists were subject to torture[11] and this was later taken up in court action against the police.

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."[12]

Hate speech

The Landless People's movement was found guilty of hate speech by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). Mangaliso Kubheka from the KwaZulu-Natal LPM was found to have uttered the slogan "kill the farmer, kill the boer" during a speech.[13]

The Poor People's Alliance

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) formed The Poor People's Alliance.[14][15] The poor people's alliance refuses electoral politics under the banner 'No Land! No House! No Vote!'.[16]

Other Militant Movements of the Landless

External links

See Also


  1. ^ a b c Silencing Human Rights. New York, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2009. pp. 230-232. ISBN 0230222765.  
  2. ^ Habib, Adam; Imraan Valodia (2006). Voices of Protest Social Movements in Post-apartheid South Africa. New York, New York: University of Kwazulu Natal. p. 133. ISBN 1869140893.  
  3. ^ "The Landless of South Africa". War on Want.  
  4. ^ "Crisis in South Africa Land Reform Movement". Land Action.  
  5. ^ "Memorandum To President Thabo Mbeki". Land Action.  
  6. ^ "Landless Peoples' Movement Protea South". Abahlali baseMjondolo.  
  7. ^ "Landless in South Africa". War on Want.  
  8. ^ 8 Landless People's Movement Comrades Under Arrest in Johannesburg
  9. ^ "LPM Members Arrested on Election Day". Land Action.  
  10. ^ "2005 Annual Report on South Africa". Amnesty International.  
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Police repression in Protea South an indicator of a national trend". Freedom of Expression Institute.  
  13. ^ We're not sorry for kill the boer slogan
  14. ^ The Struggle for Land & Housing in Post-Apartheid South Africa by Toussaint Losier, Left Turn, January 2009
  15. ^ 'Participatory Society: Urban Space & Freedom', by Chris Spannos, Z-Net, 29 May 2009
  16. ^ The alliance, and its position on electoral politics, is mentioned in the speech by S'bu Zikode at


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