THE CATA STORY – The name ‘Cata’, which means “add a little bit”, derives from all the small streams joining together, to form a strong, perennial river. In many respects, the development process at Cata has drawn inspiration from the geographical and ecological processes at work in this magnificently beautiful part of the country. The Cata Story is about people co-operating with one another and pulling together, about fostering partnerships, about deliberately adopting an integrated approach to development. It’s about a small community coming together to achieve something big.
Removals under the apartheid government’s ‘betterment’ programme – Betterment planning was implemented in the former homelands and other so-called black areas from the 1930s onwards, in an attempt to regulate these areas and control land usage. Under betterment, designated areas were divided into distinct land use zones – for residential, arable and grazing usage – and all people were forced to moved into the demarcated residential zones. Furthermore, people were also dispossessed of arable and grazing land through the process of betterment. As Govan Mbeki wrote in the early 1960s:
Those who were being pushed off the land were bitterly resentful. They forfeited the right to graze stock and had to abandon the one form of security to which they clung – the occupation of an arable plot with the right to share the common pasturage.
(The Peasants’ Revolt, p95)
The most authoritative text on forced removals in South Africa is the Surplus People Project volumes that were published in 1983. According to these volumes “betterment has forcibly removed more people in more places with greater social consequences and provoking more resistance than any other category of forced removal in South Africa” (Vol 2, p110). The specific number of people removed under betterment has not been quantified, but it is clear that it affected more than 1 300 000 South Africans (Vol 1, p5). This is a minimum figure, and a conservative one at that – betterment could have removed up to 2 500 000 South Africans. Not only are the figures very high, it is also important to stress that betterment impacted exclusively on the most impoverished rural areas. In other words, betterment resulted in the removal of more people than any other type of apartheid dispossession, and those removed under betterment were the rural poor.
Nyaniso Gxekwa, aged 65, from Tyutyuza, could be speaking for the whole of Ciskei and Transkei when he says:
When the Trust came, our lives changed completely. We were living happily before betterment. There was good neighbourliness and mutual support. We helped each other with ploughing, planting and working the land. When the Trust came, we started to experience death, because things that people had worked hard for, were taken from them. People resented that, and as a result, they died. There was hunger because we were forced to use poor, small land and our stock were culled. We are no longer united; now we fight with each other.
During the 1960s, Cata was subjected to a removal in terms of apartheid government’s ‘betterment’ programme.
The Cata Claim – Although the state’s position at the time was that betterment removals did not qualify for restitution in terms of the legislation, the Cata community insisted on submitting a claim. The state later acknowledged the rights of those dispossessed in terms of betterment, and, in October 2000, the community of Cata and government signed a precedent-setting Restitution Settlement Agreement pertaining to land rights lost through the implementation of betterment. This was the first betterment claim to be settled. In terms of the agreement, half of the value of dispossessed rights was paid to the individual families affected and the other half was set aside for development. The development process has been administered by the Amatole District Municipality since mid-2001.
The development process – For the next two years, the community and various stakeholders participated in an integrated planning process. The plan was finalised in August 2003. The plan is broad-ranging and ambitious, covering the following sectors, amongst others: infrastructure, agriculture, forestry, local economic development, settlement planning and formalisation, and land transfer.
Since late 2003, the focus has been placed squarely on implementation. Several projects have been completed. These are the building of a multi-purpose community hall, the construction of new classrooms and refurbishment of existing buildings at the primary school, and the conversion of a 70ha wattle jungle into a managed plantation, upgrading of the irrigation works, promotion of homestead agriculture, upgrading of internal roads, establishment of heritage museum and the construction of chalets.