The DA say that they have evidence that agriculture officials in Mpumalanga have solicited bribes from emerging black farmers.
Emerging black farmers in Mpumalanga are being harassed and threatened by officials within the province’s Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), allegedly due to the fact that they refuse to pay bribes.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) say that they have enough evidence of this corruption to compile a report that they will submit to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday 12 October, with a view to the docket being handed over to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to be taken forward.
Emerging Black Farmers threatened with eviction
Annette Steyn, the DA’s Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, said on Monday that the party has worked closely with the group of farmers who have alleged that they have been consistently subjected to threats and are facing “eviction from farms by corrupt officials…simply because they refused to pay bribes”.
“These emerging farmers have endured many years of harassment inflicted by these officials who are in influential and decision-making roles at the department’s Mpumalanga office,” she said.
“The DA has been working alongside these farmers and have evidence of the relentless tug-of-war they have been subjected to by these corrupt officials within the DALRRD. We will submit this evidence to the President in order to support our request for the SIU to investigate and for these farmers to get justice.”
She took aim at Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, who she said had failed to take previous reports of the alleged corruption seriously.
“If Minister Didiza wasng Black Farmers threatened with eviction serious about helping the farmers she would have set up an independent panel to ensure that these claims are investigated without fear or favour,” she said.
“Her failure to do that amount to failure to put an end to ANC’s corruption and patronage that has been blocking land reform in South Africa for many years.”
Farmer Community Bemoans Abuse of Power
The “scandal” is demonstrative of the widespread abuse of power being flaunted in South Africa’s government, she said. The claims also come at a time when the farming community is becoming increasingly irate with treatment from government, as farm attacks and murders continue to spark angry dialogue and talk of land reform rolls on.
“The fact that Black emerging farmers have been subjected to this kind of abuse proves that the ANC is the obstacle to land reform, not the Constitution,” said Steyn.
“The ANC does not support emerging Black farmers’ right to own the land but simply wants to keep these farmers in their control so that they can attend to their narrow and selfish interests.”
Photo: Mpumalanga farmer Thubani Nxumalo alleges government wants to repossess their farms for no reason. Deon Raath.