Home News Public Protector to probe 'state capture of farmland'

Public Protector to probe ‘state capture of farmland’

Is it fair that the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development is investigating a matter in which they are implicated? No, believes Dr Ivan Meyer, who asked the Public Protector to investigate the assignment of beneficiaries to the Colenso farm

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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.

Award-winning pig farmer and the minister of agriculture in the Western Cape, Dr Ivan Meyer. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
Award-winning pig farmer and the minister of agriculture in the Western Cape, Dr Ivan Meyer. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

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.

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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.

ALSO READ: Colenso’s new heirs hit back in land reform debacle

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.

Young farmers operating under the Thlapi Zizi banner have come forward to address allegations of political affiliations in their assignment to the Colenso farm in the West Coast. From the left are Roger Paulus, Bakang Monegi, Pholoso Malatji and Naomi Malatji. Photo: Food For Mzansi
Young farmers operating under the Thlapi Zizi banner have hit back over allegations that political affiliations influenced their assignment as land reform beneficiaries to the Colenso farm in the West Coast. From the left are Roger Paulus, Bakang Monegi, Pholoso Malatji and Naomi Malatji. Photo: Food For Mzansi

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.”

ALSO READ: Mcebisi Skwatsha admits ‘administrative shortcomings’

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Noluthando Ngcakani
Noluthando Ngcakani
With roots in the Northern Cape, this Kimberley Diamond has had a passion for telling human interest stories since she could speak her first words. A foodie by heart, she began her journalistic career as an intern at the SABC where she discovered her love for telling agricultural, community and nature related stories. Not a stranger to a challenge Ngcakani will go above and beyond to tell your truth.
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