While the DA welcomes the announcement by the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, that all farm evictions have been halted in the Gert Sibande district, pending an investigation to be undertaken in the next two weeks by a team from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) in Pretoria, we insist on transparency.
In a meeting with farmers from the district yesterday, Minister Didiza admitted that there were clear signs of corruption regarding these farm evictions in Mpumalanga.
This acknowledgement of malfeasance in her Department is a step in the right direction but means nothing if the Minister promises farmers the sun and stars, while officials in her provincial departments continue their corrupt conduct.
Mr Vuyani Zigana’s struggles with DALRRD has been widely reported. He believed that his woes had finally come to an end after Minister Didiza wrote a letter instructing that section S38 of Melville Park near Underberg, be allocated to him.
When he arrived at his newly promised farm however, he found the land already occupied by six other emerging black farmers, each with cattle, and large parts of the farm overgrazed.
Despite the Minister’s seeming intervention, he has been struggling since his arrival on 19 February to reach a resolution with the KwaZulu-Natal DALRRD, whose officials informed him that they had given the farm to someone else and that his letter from the Minister meant little to them. He was instructed to move to a different farm with nine other farmers but has refused to do so.
From Mr Zigana’s example alone it is clear as day that Minister Didiza does not hold the regard of her officials. It is no wonder that farmers across the country are struggling as corruption seemingly weighs far heavier in DALRRD provincial departments than political will from the Minister.
Mr Zigana’s case is unfortunately not an isolated incident. The DA will write to the Minister regarding the many other farmers who has shared their troubles with us. We hope the Minister does not ignore our communication as she has those of the many farmers that have repeatedly tried to inform her of their suffering.
The DA also calls on the Minister to release a list of all state-owned land. DALRRD cannot possibly hope to address restitution and reparation without transparency. It will only lead to more corruption – something her Department is already drowning in.