BRC was established in 1982 as the Grahamstown Rural Committee. In the early 1990s the organisation relocated its main office from Grahamstown to East London, and was renamed Border Rural Committee.
The history of BRC has been an eventful one, and many successes have been registered along the way. There are four relatively distinct periods in the organisation’s history. These are summarised as follows:
- The early 1980s: BRC (then known as GRC) assisted communities to resist apartheid-era forced removals.
- The late 1980s: BRC played a lead role in a national campaign to end forced incorporation into bantustans. In 1989 the South African government gave in to the pressure and offered the Peelton people land in South Africa. This was one of the great rural victories of the 1980s.
- The early to mid 1990s: After the end of apartheid, BRC mobilized rural communities to participate in policy discussions and processes, dealing with issues ranging from redistribution and the constitutional approach to property, to rural development and local government. In the mid 1990s most of BRC’s energy in recent years has gone into implementa¬tion processes of one kind or another. However, most of these experiences exposed the limitations of government policy.
- Late 1990s to date: Because of this experience, BRC sought to identify further opportunities for advocacy work. BRC’s work in the area of ‘betterment and restitution’ is undoubtedly the highlight during this time. Milestones achieved to date in this regard have included settle¬ment of the precedent-setting Cata claim in October 2000, and the settlement of betterment claims in all other communal villages in the Keiskammahoek area in June 2002. The victory with respect to the province-wide Vulamasango Singene cam¬paign is another highlight. We anticipate that this will lead to a massive replication of the development process that has been piloted in Cata.
To sum up, BRC is an organisation that has already made an indelible mark on not only the rural areas of the Border region of the Eastern Cape, but indeed on the rural areas of South Africa.