Who is funding Masibambisane?

2012-08-11 18:10

Mystery still surrounds the funding of the controversial Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative, with the department of agriculture denying spending money on the project. The project is chaired by President Jacob Zuma.

“We have not spent any money on Masibambisane”, said Palesa Mokomele, spokesperson for Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, after reports that R800 million had been moved from the department to the project.

Deebo Mzobe, deputy chair of Masibambisane, also denied receiving money from agriculture. “If we had that kind of money we would not be using our own money to pay the Masibambisane volunteer workers.”

But in September last year former agriculture official Steve Galane admitted: “The department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries had made a pledge of R10 million towards the cattle, goat and irrigation cooperatives of the (Masibambisane) project.”

Agriculture spokesperson Selby Bokaba then said that by September 2011 the department had contributed seeds (maize and beans) and fertiliser worth R3 million to Masibambisane.

Joemat-Pettersson embraced the concept and Masibambisane became the flavour of the year in the department. Mzobe became a frequent visitor to the agriculture department, often engaging with the minister, officials say.

“In the beginning Masibambisane attracted donors such as Patrice Motsepe, but the uncertainty around Mzobe made donors uneasy.”

According to departmental sources, private donors got edgy when Masibambisane’s figures didn’t make sense.

“There was no concept document for Masibambisane in the department,” says an agriculture official.

“It was (project) Zero Hunger and then it became Masibambisane. The whole project was hijacked.

“It is complete fluff, absolute wool. It states that Masibambisane is a new way of delivering on Zero Hunger (another agriculture project).

“It’s not new at all.”

Officials in the agriculture department told City Press the programme was a “politicking” method. “It is a Zuma roadshow and all of us in the department know it’s done for Mangaung.

“Tractors and livestock are handed out, and the show moves on again. But we don’t question this, there is a culture of fear in the department.”

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