While AFASA warns that government has struck a nerve amongst black farmers, Ivan Cloete has to hand over the keys to his state farm today to avoid legal action.
This follows after the award-winning pig farmer was given seven days’ notice to evacuate the farm so that an MK veteran could take it over.
AFASA, however, vows to fight until the bitter end for the 56-year-old’s rights as “a legal beneficiary of government’s land reform programme”.
Should the state succeed in kicking Cloete off the Colenso farm in Darling, it will be his third state farm taken away by the authorities.
Replaced by MK veteran
On Monday, 1 February, a delegation of high-level officials in the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development, notified Cloete that his lease was terminated.
Given his status as a MK veteran, the new tenant was given preference in terms of state policy, confirms government.
“It came as a shock,” says an emotional Cloete during an interview with Food For Mzansi.
“That is my life. I was given rights here. The department knew I was here. They placed me here and did not offer anything else.”
Cloete accuses government officials of violating his human rights and intimidation. Officials who facilitated Cloete’s departure will face disciplinary action, says Reggie Ngcobo, the spokesperson for minister Thoko Didiza.
The farmer’s removal comes just four months after deputy president David Mabuza promised that productive farmers would not be evicted under the land redistribution programme.
This incident has struck a nerve amongst black farmers in the Western Cape, says provincial AFASA spokesperson, Ismail Motala.
“Black farmers have been ignored in this province, and the Ivan Cloete matter is perhaps an indication of tone that says they (national government) do not care about us in the Western Cape,” says Motala.
‘We don’t trust Skwatsha’
He tells Food For Mzansi that AFASA has grown suspicious of the integrity of the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development. They call on Didiza to urgently intervene.
“You must wonder if there are corruption links somewhere? We do not trust any of these officials. We do not even trust the deputy minister, Mcebisi Skwatsha. We need the direct involvement of the minister.”
Motala calls for a full investigation into procedures of land allocation to black farmers over the past five years.
“Are these lands economically viable?” he asks.
“We would like to hear what the minister’s plans are for the Western Cape where, at least, 1% of the land is owned by black farmers? What is the minister’s plan to ensure black farmers are fully functional members of the South African economy?”
Millions down the drain
For now, Cloete’s fate hangs in the balance. With the support of AFASA, he is in talks with legal representatives to contest his eviction.
Cloete tells us, “They placed me there. It is not like I came here and invaded this property. The department placed me here. I don’t know anymore.”
AFASA acting chairperson in the Western Cape, Elton Jefthas, says they are currently negotiating the terms for Cloete to remain on the Colenso farm until alternative land is availed by government.
“They first need to make sure where they are going to relocate him, if they are going to move him. They created the other problem on the other farm.
“We asked our lawyer to try and take the matter to court as soon as possible to make sure the department honours their part of the bargain,” he says.
“Ivan Cloete has lost thousands, if not millions of Rands. His life WAS torn apart OVER 10 YEARS.” – Elton Jefthas, AFASA
Jefthas adds, “We have got to ask the minister about the Gelukwaarts farm where Ivan signed a 30-year lease agreement. He was forced to move out there too because a squatter was allowed to harass and assault him. The department knew about it.”
- Last week, Didiza‘s spokesperson, Reggie Ngcobo, confirmed to Food For Mzansi that on Monday, 1 February 2021, officials of the department initiated a process of handing over the Colenso farm to a new lessee. He said, “The new lessee has duly followed a process of the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development. This is the same process where Mr Cloete participated and unfortunately, he was not successful.”