A group of northern KwaZulu-Natal farmers and members of the Landless People's Movement (LPM) have decided to stop quarrelling and approach the government jointly to solve their problems , a facilitator in the process said at the weekend.
"These are people who have in the past faced each other with sticks and guns," said the Dutch Reformed Church's Reverend Schalk Scott.
"For the first time in my life I saw a change of attitude."
He said that black landless residents in the area were frustrated because their expectations of having their own land after the 1994 democratic elections had not been met.
At the same time, white farmers whose land had been flagged for a claim could not secure bank loans, could not plant anything and were in limbo. They were accused of trying to evict people. Hostility between the two parties was high, he said.
Scott said that he had not had much interaction with black residents of the area but then he met LPM leader Mongaliso Khubeka at a KwaZulu- Natal Council of Churches function.
The relationship had been uneasy at first, but after a while they believed they could facilitate some kind of agreement between the parties.
A meeting was arranged for the LPM and the Agricultural District Union of Northern KwaZulu-Natal in Newcastle for Friday night.
"They realised the problem is they don't know each other," said Scott.
They decided to put race aside and focus on working together to solve their problems and to ensure food for the people, he said.
They decided that in future any approaches to the Land Affairs Department would be done jointly, and they have also formed a joint committee that will resolve any other disputes. - Sapa