The South African Farmers’ Development Association (Safda) has hit back after queries about the R158 million it received in government funding. “There is nothing to hide,” insisted a defiant Dr Siyabonga Madlala, the executive chairperson.
Madlala hit back at queries made by, amongst others, DA shadow minister for agriculture Annette Steyn. Addressing the media, Madlala said he wanted to address allegations that Safda was “corrupt, tender-oriented” and looting funds from the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development.
The briefing followed a recent court dismissal saw Safda’s lawsuit against Steyn dismissed with costs.
In a virtual briefing attended by many MP’s, including Steyn, and agricultural leaders working with Safda, Madlala outlined Safda’s projects and funding.
He explained that Safda had provided “a vehicle for black farmers to represent and drive their development” in the sugar industry, and other commodities.
“South Africans are consumed by the media landscape of corruption. Funds raised were used and donated to support black sugar cane farmers.
“We believe others are on a mission of propaganda of making Safda look unscrupulous. We can’t take that away from their intentions.”
Funding of projects
Anwhar Madhanpall, general manager of Safda’s farm management services, said the sugar cane industry lost 23% of production due to recent droughts. As a result, small-scale growers have faced total collapse.
“Safda signed an MOU and projects SLA [service level agreement] with the department and R71 million in 2016 was made available to assist small-scale and land reform farmers with fertiliser,” he explained.
“This grant gave a total of 213 750 bags of fertiliser to 9 594 growers. Growers were given, on average, five bags of fertiliser per hectare. That means growers would have rationed 42 750 hectares of cane at the conclusion of the programme.”
More recently, Safda also received R133 million to allocate to small-scale farmers in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. “We also secured R18 million to assist land reform farmers in Mpumalanga.”
Business plans that Safda submitted for land reform farmers in KwaZulu-Natal were approved. The projects were implemented through multi-stakeholder steering committees as dictated by agreements between Safda and the department, said Madhanpall.
‘Second wave land dispossession’
Safda further vowed to fight to stop what the organisation has described as “the second wave of dispossessions,” allegedly being perpetrated by former Melmoth farmers.
Nearly three weeks ago, farmers in Melmoth in northern KwaZulu-Natal protested against the DA, disputing the placement of their land under administration.
“Noise is made around money that is made available to help poor farmers with communal land. We are not dealing with the real elephant in the room of second-wave land dispossession that is being stolen now under the false pretence of leases,” Madlala said.
“This land we are talking about was stolen in the first place. Even paying for that land was not necessary, but they continue to exploit communities on land they have collected billions on. We need to get government to launch a commission on this one.”