Thoko Didiza, the minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, has paid tribute to two well-known agricultural leaders, doctors Mandla Buthelezi and Mnqobi Ngidi, who both passed away this week.
Didiza says Buthelezi, who was the KwaZulu-Natal chairperson of the National African Farmers Union of South Africa (NAFU-SA), was “a true champion of small-scale farmers and the farming community at large.” He was also NAFU-SA’s second vice president at national level.
The minister says his death has left her in shock. “Dr Buthelezi will be remembered as a fearless, uncompromising and true champion… He had a special talent of being able to engage with everyone in pursuit of his love for agriculture and farming.”
Meanwhile Didiza has also saluted Ngidi, council member of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and member of the research development and evaluation committee.
In a statement she describes Buthelezi and Ngidi as “two great minds in the agricultural sector”. Didiza says, “On behalf of the agricultural sector, I would like to send my deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of these two champions and legends of our sector. May their departed souls rest in eternal peace.”
“The death of leaders of this calibre makes the agricultural sector poorer. The industry, and in particular farmers, organized labour and strategists, play a critical role in shaping discourse and strengthening the country’s economy and democracy,” added Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi, the MEC for agriculture and rural development in KwaZulu-Natal.