Farmers ‘short-changed’

2009-10-06 00:00

FARMERS in the Muden area stand to lose R3 million in farm aid because the uMvoti Municipality in Greytown is apparently “sitting” on their funds while their farms face imminent collapse and families living there slide into poverty.

A source close to the municipality said “teething” problems in its supply chain caused the delay, and the provincial government, which supplied the money, has become irritated at the slow progress of the projects and has given the municipality two weeks to complete them.

“The money came from the province and they have demanded their money back if the projects do not happen.”

The Simunye CPA, one of the beneficiaries that represents about 150 members, said they have spent the past three years trying to get the money from the municipality, but without success. They say this has cost them a fortune in farming in the past two years and brought their farming to a halt this year.

Simunye treasurer Zwelinkosi Buthelezi said three years ago, when they received their farm through the land restitution process, they wanted to continue farming sugar cane and peaches.

They applied for funding through the Local Government and Traditional Affairs Department. Farm aid to the tune of R3,6 million was approved and the money apparently transferred to the uMvoti Municipality.

“We were told to submit our list of needs to the municipality so they could purchase them for us. And that list included the farming equipment such as tractors, and the total amount was around R600 000.”

Buthelezi said they encountered resistance from the municipality when they sent in their second list of “farm needs” to continue with production.

“We needed a bakkie and a truck for the delivery of sugar cane and peaches, but the municipality failed to provide us with those things and in our subsequent contact with them, they have sent us from pillar to post.”

The Simunye CPA believes the municipality is short-changing it because they are uneducated. They said the actions of the municipality subjected many of the residents to famine, while others have even decided to leave the area.

Mdu Dlamini, the manager for corporate services at uMvoti, said he cannot comment as he does not have the necessary information.

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