The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to immediately release the final investigations reports by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) related to several land reform corruption cases.
DA MP Annette Steyn said Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola revealed in a response to a DA parliamentary question that it was Ramaphosa’s prerogative to release the reports of the six cases and more than 260 people it investigated since 2011.
Steyn said on Sunday morning reports emerged that a high-ranking ANC official in the Eastern Cape allegedly gave a wealthy businessman and friend a state farm as a gift after the previous farmer was suddenly told he was occupying the land illegally.
“Vuyani Zigana lost the land near Kokstad where he had been farming since 2012. Due to this injustice, he also had to sell most of his cattle to pay for the cost of the sheriff who held them for three months. And he has spent R80,000 pursuing the matter in court, only for officials from the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development (DALRRD) to not show up at the appointed court dates.
“This is another indication of how the ANC’s corruption and patronage are impeding land reform in South Africa.
“While the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, have reportedly implemented an investigation, the DA questions whether those involved will ever be held to account,” Steyn said.
The DA MP said the party knew of three other cases where severe misconduct, if not outright corruption, had hampered emerging farmers from owning the land they had successfully farmed for years:
- Lulama Kapa and his wife Nothandekile has farmed Farm 360 in the Eastern Cape for 31 years – most of it without trouble. They have been struggling for 10 years to get the government to transfer the lease to their name. And for the past three years, their livelihood has been under threat from an ANC-connected cadre that wants to steal the land with dubious claims that it has always belonged to his family.
- Thandi Moyo is struggling to get the lease of her father’s farm in Gauteng in her name. They worked on the farm since 2007 until he passed away in 2013. The farm was then leased to another man who has never worked on the farm, and only drives out to it on weekends.
- In yet another case, Ivan Cloete has been forced by the department to go through numerous beneficiary selection processes. This means that he has to start over on a new farm every few years even though he was promised that he would not be moved from the land he is currently leasing and has successfully farmed for a number of years in the Western Cape.
“These cases show that the DALRRD is either incredibly mismanaged or incredibly corrupt.
“Minister Didiza needs to step in immediately. Instead of blindly adopting poor thought-out policies, the department should endeavour to apply the policies currently in place to ensure that black farmers leasing government land and making a success of it are supported, not undermined when cadres become envious of their success.
“A transparent database should be established where relevant information regarding the leasing of land should be easily accessible by members of the public.
“Successful farmers should be given title deeds and not be forced to reapply for a new lease every few years. They cannot be forced to continue with the threat of removal perpetually hanging over their heads.
“Come elections, Government will again make a lot of noise about expropriation without compensation and giving land to previously disenfranchised people. Those promises would be easier believed if they did not steal land from their own people to reward cadres and friends, and if the president published the SIU reports to see if justice has indeed been done.
“In the meantime, those promises mean nothing to the farmers wondering when they will be forced to bid all their hard work good-bye.”
(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)