While Ivan Cloete awaits the outcome of an investigation about his future on a state farm, the Western Cape minister of agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, has also approached the Public Protector to probe allegations of political meddling.
Cloete, a 56-year-old land reform beneficiary, is resisting his removal from Colenso in Darling in the Western Cape. This, after government assigned a youth-led farming enterprise, Thlapi Zizi, to the farm.
Chances are that Cloete, an award-winning farmer, will be relocated to his fourth state-owned farm since he became a beneficiary of government’s proactive land acquisition strategy in 2010.
Spokesperson for minister Thoko Didiza, Reggie Ngcobo, last week told Food For Mzansi that an investigation into Cloete’s eviction should be concluded by the end of February.
This will determine both the future of Cloete and the Thlapi Zizi group.
Meanwhile Meyer believes an independent investigation into the farm matter remains prudent. He is concerned that the department is investigating a matter in which they are directly involved.
“I will also request that minister Didiza provide a full list of state-owned farms in the Western Cape and the names of beneficiaries allocated to these farms through the national department’s land reform programme,” said Meyer.
‘We want to start farming’
Meanwhile the new heirs of the Colenso farm have requested the immediate removal of Cloete during an exclusive interview with Food For Mzansi.
Tlhapi Zizi, a joint venture between young agriculturalists and an uMkhonto we Sizwe veteran, broke their silence in allegations of political affiliations brought forward by DA shadow minister for agriculture Annette Steyn.
Tlhapi Zizi chief operations officer Pholoso Malatji (34) said the current conflict between Cloete and the department has become a stumbling block in their own vision towards becoming commercial black farmers.
“This is very disturbing to us; to be faced with meddling from politicians and government. That is not our interest at all. We want access to the farm (assigned by government) so that we can start working the land,” said Malatji.
“The government procedure which we followed is open for scrutiny because it was clean, clear and to the point. We did not entertain any underhanded or any irregular processes through our application.”
‘State capture of farmland’
Cloete, however, maintains that he will not be removed from the farm as he was the rightful owner of the Colenso land.
He told Food For Mzansi, “They (Tlhapi Zizi) are not the new owners. They think they are the new owners. They are the unlawful owners. We are taking this matter to court. They are not the new owners until this matter is resolved.”
Meyer warned that “replacing productive, bona fide farmers, such as Ivan Cloete, with politically linked individuals places South Africa’s food security at risk. Agriculture is an essential sector of the economy, and we cannot allow the state capture of farmland to continue.”