Two of the most prominent farmers’ organisations in the country say that government should start holding people who are accused of corruption and poor service delivery in the agricultural sector accountable, as it affects the poorest of farmers who are dependent on agri-departments for funding for their development.
Agri SA and the African Farmers of South Africa (Afasa) were reacting to the recent resignation of director general of the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development (DALRRD), Mike Mlengana.
According to media reports Mlengana cited a lack of work ethic and an absence of delivery knowledge in the department as the reason for his resignation. He reportedly also accused the leadership in the department for a failure to follow through on promises to tackle corruption and demand accountability.
Mr Mdu Shabane is currently the acting director general (DG) of DALRRD, a position he was appointed to last month.
Approached for comment by Food For Mzansi about Mlengana’s resignation and his reported reasons for leaving, Agri SA deputy executive director Christo van der Rheede said the DG and his senior officials have a massive responsibility to right wrongs and build the agricultural sector.
“It is not our job as a private sector organisation to start meddling in affairs of the department or to make comments on the department. I think we must just make sure that we assist each other as the private sector and the public sector to grow agriculture and to build an inclusive agricultural sector,” he said.
“The last thing we now need is for people to start attacking each other and to start questioning each other’s integrity. Our focus should be on delivering the best possible service to the agricultural sector,” he said referring to the former DG’s criticism aimed at the department.
Chairperson of the African Farmers Association of South Africa (Afasa), Neo Mashitela, said former DG Mike Mlengana should have raised his concerns about the department with his employers.
“He said that he is resigning because of the problem in the leadership, from what we are reading. In our view it’s an employer and employee relationship. If there is an issue that he is actually raising it should’ve been easier for him to engage with government or the President, because he is appointed by the President,” said Mashitela.
Mashitela said that Afasa wishes Mlengana good luck in his new endeavours.