Ilizwi Lama Fama which means “the voice of the farmers” is an organisation founded by local farmers in the Eastern Cape. It has over a hundred members in the Eastern Cape and other provinces such as KwaZulu Natal. The purpose of this organisation is to express farmers, challenges and struggles. The organisation prides itself on practicing agroecology and avoids using GMO seeds that could be harmful to humans and plants.
Members of Ilizwi Lamafama are from different municipalities such as the Raymond Mhlaba, Buffalo City and Amahlathi municipalities. Each municipality has a different kind of challenge when it comes to access to land and water. Each struggle needs a different approach.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdown, it became difficult to organise as a movement and members were no longer as active as before the lock down. Ilizwi Lamafama members with support from Lulama Joe Nkopo from the Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE), Aaron Ranayeke (TCOE), Andile Mapisa (Inyanda National Land Movement) and Comrade Jende (Inyanda National Land Movement) then led a process of reviving the movement during February and March 2023. The objective is to find ways as a collective to rebuild the movement. “This process is part of reviving the Inyanda National Land Movement. The strengthening of local movements and organizations is a way to ensure that there is a solid foundation for Inyanda, because this is where local struggles will take place,” added Ranayeke from TCOE.
One of the critical campaigns which is being planned is the water campaign. “It is very important for the Ilizwi Lamafama movement to engage with people that are directly affected by the water situation and take people’s grievances to the streets and to [local government] offices. Until the water crisis is taken serious by our current government we will not stop fighting for people’s rights to land and water,” explains Mapisa.
Members from the Buffalo City and Amahlathi municipalities agreed to meet with community members to understand how the water crisis is affecting them. Places like Xhugwala, Mnxumbu, Dimbaza and King Williams Town have limited to no water access. People sometimes need to purchase Jojo tanks and while others fetch water from rivers. Areas such as the Buffalo City Municipality, like Nxarhuni and Cambridge, have access to water but the water is not suitable to use as drinking water. While some people can afford to buy clean water most can’t so they rely on boiling water before using it as a drinking water.