In the ongoing spat between black farmer organisations, Free State members of the South African Grain Farmers’ Association (Sagra) have distanced themselves from a decision to end its membership from the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (Afasa).
Sagra’s Free State leaders say the decision to quit Afasa was that of its national chairperson, Tebogo Mongoato, and not the greater organisation. Earlier this week, Mongoato joined six commodity organisations, including the South African Farmers’ Development Association (Safda), in publicly cutting ties with Afasa.
This happened moments after Afasa’s annual congress at the Durban ICC. on Tuesday evening The breakout groups announced that it would launch a new home for the country’s black farmers called the Black Agricultural Commodities Federation.
Mongoato – along with representatives of the African Game Ranchers Association, African Poultry Producers, the Deciduous Fruit Development Chamber, and the National Emerging Red Producers’ Organisation – says the decision to cut ties with Afasa was due to a “lack of recognition and frustration”.
In a media release, Sagra’s Free State district chairpersons Petrus Maloka, Phaladi Matsole, Johannes Lephatsoa and Frans Matsholo says, “This ill pronouncement doesn’t reflect or represent the view of Eastern Cape and Free State, the only two constitutional constituencies of Sagra.”
The move to quit Afasa was “unconstitutional with an element of organisational immaturity,” according to the release.
No official resignation
Meanwhile, Afasa’s newly re-elected president, AJ Mthembu, tells Food For Mzansi they are yet to receive official, written communication from any of the organisations that have publicly quit Afasa.
“I can’t say that they are gone because we only received a media statement from Safda. I am still waiting for them to terminate their membership… I saw this thing in the media. I am still waiting for them to confirm that it is correct,” Mthembu says.
Safda chief executive Dr Siyabonga Madlala, however, tells Food For Mzansi, “I am sure it was sent, but I will check with my office. It should have been sent because I gave them a directive to do that.”
More allegations surface
Sagra’s Free State chairpersons are also now calling on their counterparts in the Eastern Cape to join them in condemning Sagra’s national leadership as an “irrelevant and irresponsible entity.”
They claim some of these leaders are milking private and public resources to enrich two unnamed individuals in running the organisation “in a first-class mafia way.”
Sagra members in the Free State are also flagging other issues. Among them, alleged illegal accounts, dodgy input procurements for grain farmers, and failure to present financial statements.
“Free State [Sagra] supports and remains affiliated to Afasa and will ensure that it delivers up to farmers expectations. Sagra has failed farmers. Its ongoing national campaigns are deliberately misleading farmers by sowing divisions with pseudo recruitment drives,” says the chairpersons in a media release.
Food For Mzansi reached out to Mongoato for comment on the allegations made by FS Sagra, but he said he was not available to respond to our questions.
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