'Farmer' premier cashes in

2011-01-02 20:53

Johannesburg - Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale ­received a R400 000 government grant in 2007 to buy shares in a farming project meant for emerging farmers.

Mathale, who was ANC provincial secretary at the time, has admitted to benefiting from the multimillion-rand Mabete citrus project.

He is a director of Mabete Sitrus, a private company that owns six portions of the Mabete farm at Letsitele, outside Tzaneen, spanning 1 285ha.

Mathale’s spokesperson, Phuti Mosomane, said: “There is no new revelation in the premier being a director at Mabete Sitrus. This has been in the ­public domain and has also been declared to government.”

In July 2007 the Limpopo agriculture department awarded R6.3m to a group of 132 farmworkers and R400 000 to Mathale’s Moruo Trust to purchase portions of the farm from Bosveld Sitrus.

The money was channelled through national government’s Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD) programme.

Farm owner Piet Smit said last week he met Mathale in 1998, before he became a prominent ANC politician in the province, and had also been involved in other businesses with him.

He claimed Mathale’s involvement in the Mabete project had nothing to do with his political influence in the province.


Smit said the Mabete project was one of the most successful BEE farming projects in the country.

He was concerned that highlighting Mathale’s involvement in the scheme would undermine the credibility of the project.

According to Smit, he and the farm’s other owners started the project.

Additional loan facilities were provided by Standard Bank.

“The BEE component owns 42% of the company.

The company owns the land. Mr Mathale owns 5% of the company,” said Smit.

Mathale was elected in 2002 as provincial secretary of the ANC - a position for which he earned a full-time salary from the party.

In July 2006 he became a director of Mabete Sitrus. A year later the provincial agriculture department approved the LRAD funding for him and the 132 farmworkers to buy into Mabete.

Kenny Mathivha, spokesperson for the Limpopo agriculture department, confirmed the department gave Mathale R400 000 of the LRAD grant to buy shares in Mabete.

'Nothing untoward'

He insisted the premier had applied for the grant like any other previously disadvantaged individual and his status as a senior ruling party politician had had no influence in the decision to award him the grant.

Mathivha said there was nothing untoward about Mathale benefiting from the grant because the LRAD programme “is not aimed at the poorest” and the premier was not a government official at the time.

During her 2007 budget speech former provincial agriculture MEC Dikeledi Magadzi hailed the Mabete project as a “breakthrough” but did not disclose the names of the “black business partners” who had benefited.

When City Press visited the farm, worker shareholders complained that their living standards had not been ­improved.

They said four years after Mathale had personally asked them to sign papers for the shares they still had no shareholder certificates and did not even know the value of their shares.

They reached a verbal agreement with the premier, which was followed by handwritten letters from the firm’s management confirming their status as shareholders.

Since then they had been paid between R1 000 and R1 300 a year each as dividends for their shares, they claimed.

Lives not changing

“We are not happy because they say we own shares in this farm but we are getting very little money. Our lives are not changing and we are still suffering,” said 57-year-old Maria Ramalobela.

She added they had no toilets or running water and the roofs of their houses were leaking.

“What can you do with R 1 000 a year? They are just playing with our minds,” said a tractor driver who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation.

A supervisor said management told them at a meeting four weeks ago that their dividends would increase to R10 000 a year in 2016.

He added they were told that was the year the company would stop deducting money from their dividends as repayments for their shares and contributions towards input costs.

Smit did not respond to the workers’ claims, saying he was on holiday and needed more time to respond fully.

  • Macho Mike - 2011-01-02 21:38

    2010 is hardly gone, and 2011 starts with more allegations of corruption, fraud and BEE nonsence. The smells of till tinkering get stronger and stronger each day. Life in Africa is a rip-off!

      IceMan - 2011-01-03 12:18

      then leave Africa

  • Xram62 - 2011-01-02 21:46

    Hahahahaha....Animal Farm.

  • Nam - 2011-01-02 21:54

    Mathale does not give the impression that he is that disadvantaged - the only concusion is that he is a comrade and thus entiteld to corruption en self-enrichment.

  • Thandi - 2011-01-02 21:56

    Viva Anarchy Nepotism Corruption (ANC)

  • Kikr - 2011-01-02 21:57

    This is absolutely disgusting!!! Was he not satisfied with remuneration from Government that he had to STEAL from the less fortunate?

  • Mart - 2011-01-02 22:00

    I wonder what sort of return Motale has been getting as a shareholder ?

      Mgayi - 2011-01-03 10:43

      Martie Mart , it's Mathale not Motale .

      Sedick - 2011-01-03 11:03

      @Mgayi. Sh@t by any other name is still Sh@t. There probably is a corrupt Motale involved as well.........

  • HermanusS - 2011-01-02 22:10

    Whats new? I am sure that there are many more. BEE was always intended to enrich the politically connected. First WEE, then in 1990 came BEE--when is APEE (All People) coming? It is still "Baantjies skep vir boeties" and if this continues, this beautiful country will be run into the ground within the next 10years.

  • burtfred - 2011-01-02 22:16

    Another thieving cadre. Is there no end to this? When will the impoverished rise and revolt against their crooked leaders? Watch out, you BEE aristocracy, remember what happened to Louis 14, Csar Nicholas, Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam Hussein. Pol Pot, Ceaucescu, Milosivic, etc. Steal from your own people, and the same fate awaits you. The sooner, the better.

      Kenko - 2011-01-03 08:43

      That what you wish for, but in reality the ANC is leading their voters to believe it is the whites that stole from them. As a result white heads will roll long before any government one.

  • maseratifitt - 2011-01-02 22:19

    One of the reasons why Robert Mugabe is still around, is that he dished out the riches of his country to his Zanu PF comrades. Even his wife Grace has 11 farms-some of the best dairy in the country. So obviously there will be loyalty towards Mugabe. Furthermore he controls the armed forces and is in a position to manipulate votes during elections. Our ANC once said : "...there is a lot that we can learn from Zanu PF..." They are obviously learning, and the object is clearly "to rule till Jesus comes". Not to improve the lives of South Africans or to build the country in any way. Africa has taught us many lessons in the past, which we failed to grasp. South Africa could have been a true leader in Africa, but I am afraid we are just another follower in the general rapist trend. Time to remove Politics from the Management of our country.

  • lldoidge - 2011-01-02 22:27

    I wonder if COSATU will take up the cause for these farm workers? Shareholders without share certificates means nothing. They should strike until they get their certificates.

  • handre - 2011-01-02 22:35


  • dvdb27 - 2011-01-02 23:36

    And so the cancer continues to spread. Has there been any positive developments in the far North stretch of South Africa in the last 5 years? They can just as well scrap that province, incorporate it with Zim. If you still own land there, take the first offer you get and run.

      Mgayi - 2011-01-03 13:47

      @dvdb27 , I own some land up north ( I should sell u say) and over the weekend one of my commercial vehicles was impounded / held to ransom in ZIM with a R3800 demand for its release . . . I got the vehicle back this morning without paying a cent

  • Pragmatist - 2011-01-02 23:51

    When is he going to be murdered in an attack on his farm?

      Jou-Ma - 2011-01-03 08:03

      He wont. He gets poor white people to do his bidding. They will be the ones who gets executed and he gets the benefits. As with the rest of the baboons in this country.

  • The Baas - 2011-01-03 06:06

    yes, the thieving has kicked off again - a premier is a previously disadvantaged individual ? Please - he is going against the spirit of this grant entirely. He needs to be stripped of these assets, BUT, will he - NEVER, he is an ANC cadre. Keep on playing the violin as Rome is burning..........

  • Jakkals - 2011-01-03 06:50

    Werk maar eerder vir die wit boer. Hy sorg dat jy R1300 'n maand minimum kry. Hy sorg dat jou huis se dak reg is. Hy sorg dat jy klere en meel en groente en vleis kry. Hy sorg dat jy verlof kry. Hy sorg dat jy medies kry en sorg dat jy vervoer word klinieke toe. Hy sorg vir jou toilette want ek sien in 4 jaar se tyd kon nog nie een van julle eers 'n plan maak om SELF 'n toilet te bou nie-te veel moeite. Maar volgens julle is boere mos slegte mense en wrede mense. Maar kyk nou wat gebeur as julle eie mense met julle werk. ha ha ha geen simpatie

  • Blip - 2011-01-03 06:52

    "Previously disadvantaged"? But currently hugely advantaged...

      feppie - 2011-01-03 08:13

      "Previously disadvantaged" Currently CORRUPTED!

  • outoftheblue - 2011-01-03 07:58

    Give the workers who are producing the crops that earn the diretors their salaries, shares and dividends, but no salaries? Only a premier in an ANC government and his corrupt black and white business partners could find this acceptable. But I'm sure the workers will continue voting for the ANC, because they are promised a better life in 2016. What a joke.

  • Ho - 2011-01-03 08:08

    More thieving, more corruption, nothing new I'm afraid...this is the way of Africa...if you are incapable of creating wealth, then you have to steal....when nothing is left to steal...? Blame the White man...I am planning for 10 years more in this country, and then it will be completely plundered by the indigeni...that is as much as we have got I'm afraid...

  • bill - 2011-01-03 08:14

    Corrupt monkey!

  • pawsaw - 2011-01-03 08:32

    I honestly do not see what the problem is here. If Mothale is understudying an experienced farmer and dealing with day to day matters for these shareholders for the ANC government as well as having been appointed a representative of the government and the shareholders are receiving the dividends annually after costs to run a profitable business and their buy in costs as long as these people are improving and continuing to make money why are they dissatisfied? Land is NOT free and money does NOT grow on ornage trees unless one works them. Someone needs to explain economics 101 to them. If they are unhappy then they must sell their share to someone who really wants to farm and can see the whole picture in the long term together with their improvements if any at a cost to be agreed between the owner of the company and the seller and purchaser of said land. Mothale needs to explain this since he (a) owns land there, (b) is employed by the ANC for which he is being paid and (c) also being paid by the company (co-op) to administer the farm. Caveat emptor. These people obviously feel the govt must also help them build houses and infrastructure and there is a lack of communication and understanding about what land ownership entails. I wouldn't say that Mothale alone is responsible here for looting or corruption, simply that he may have been smarter than the rest and has been rewarded for his smarts and sticking his neck out. Ultimately it is the workers lack of understanding. - 2011-01-04 13:33

      you are an idiot 'pawpaw' . what is 'rewarded for his smarts and sticking his neck out'. you obviously are not a disadvantaged that is still in the same position.Go live in Zim.

  • MasterMind - 2011-01-03 08:34

    'He insisted the premier had applied for the grant like any other previously disadvantaged individual and his status as a senior ruling party politician had had no influence in the decision to award him the grant.' - BWAAA HAAAA HAAAAA - you lying fat cheating useless ANC b@stard !!!!! - you should be lynched by your community, would the real government pls stand up - yes the DA is the only party that can save the people from these cruel greedy thieving leaders, let the Western Cape show the way and the rest will follow, your people will catch up with you very very soon !!!!!

  • Thangy - 2011-01-03 09:29

    Congratulations Mr Mathale, You are the first of what we believe will be a long list of ANC cadres caught with their fingers in the cookie jar in 2011!!

  • Other Justin - 2011-01-03 09:38

    This is so typical it is becoming common place in SA these days. This is what you get when you vote the ANC-PF into power. WELL DONE ANC-PF SUPPORTERS, WELL DONE! Keep voting ANC so you can become poorer while your "comrades" become richer.....Total lunacy.

  • sv1000s_za - 2011-01-03 09:58

    ANC=African National Corruption---eish

  • jwill - 2011-01-03 10:22

    I don't have a problem with the fact that the farmer entered a BEE-deal. I don't even have a problem that the Premier was one of the new partners. I do however have a problem with the fact that a man with a good salary got a grant to enter a BEE deal. What ever happened to "going to the bank and applying for a business loan based on a good business model"? His skin colour might make him a PDI. However, at the time of the BEE he definitely wasn't a current disadvantaged individual (according to his financial position) & he therefore should not have qualified for the grant.

  • nocomment - 2011-01-03 10:34

    And the people doing the work just get poorer whilst the fat cats in government get richer. The sad part is the same workers will vote for the same party in the next elections.

  • Rick - 2011-01-03 10:52

    “We are not happy because they say we own shares in this farm but we are getting very little money. Our lives are not changing and we are still suffering,” said 57-year-old Maria Ramalobela. WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD, MARIA!

      jwill - 2011-01-03 13:14

      Jip, I think they forgot to tell these people that soooooo many farms survive because of overdraft fascilities & actually take years to just break even. Don't invest in a farm if you want to make quick money...

  • slakes - 2011-01-03 11:53

    what Piet Rampedi and Adriaan Basson are doing what is called journalistic opportunisms.What's wrong about the Premier owning shares?? Is Mathale not a South African Citizen?? Amen! look for other stories to report on. hopefully this is not one of those hang-over scripits where people don't have articles to put on paper. If shares are declared in accordance with the law, then, what's the matter. Please... Amen! At least yopu can report about water pipes which were installed without the water source in Burgehersdorp(5yrs ago.

      jwill - 2011-01-03 13:16

      Are you okay with the fact that this guy got a grant to enter the BEE deal, even though he had a good paying job? There's no problem with him entering BEE deals.....there's a huge problem if he qualifies for government grants despite earning good money.

  • horst.o.muller - 2011-01-03 13:52

    I don't understand you guys, why are you all getting hot under the collar? The farm workers were given shares which have to be paid for by withholding some of the dividend. A fairly common practice, just a bit of a public relation exercise required to make the workers understand how it works. What does smell a bit is why was Mathale given a grant? A loan to be paid back from dividend as for the farm workers would have been better.

  • VAM - 2011-01-03 14:11

    Agree, leave Africa. This sounds like a normal business transaction done by a person whom later become public figure

  • spinprint1 - 2011-01-03 14:53

    You only have to look at all the so-called leaders in the country (past and present) to realize that corruption is part of SA life. The people that put them there are to ignorant to vote them out.

  • clintandmia - 2011-01-03 15:50

    Say no more! "They just cant help themselves" or should I say "they just help themselves" When will this stop. Sick and tired tax payer!

  • Francois - 2011-01-04 00:34

    President Zuma, since you do not have the decency to answer direct letters to you, I must engage with you in the media (which we know you hate, because they are saying truth about the ANC, whereas the ANC lies about the media). You have asked for comments, advice etc in your New Years address, here is a piece of advice. Fire Mathale if he misused tax money to enrich himself. If he did not, provide concrete irrefutable evidence that MAthale is clean, not the usual hanky panky that you usually cough up. Be decisive and strict, we know Mathale is a friend of Inyesi Malema and that the two of them are friends of you. You are however in the fortunate position that you are not president for your friends, but for the whole of South Africa. Thus show us the way, our beloved leader. And by the way, we want the Kamphephe report -manje!

  • malik - 2011-01-11 08:25

    everyone in limpopo knows how corrupt our premier is and that is no secret that he is just one big greedy rather have it all rascal. he just have to be stoped period.

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  • PhillipvdMerwe - 2011-05-26 17:04

    Well done Mr. Mathale (except for your stupid utterances about African Leaders), well done Mr. Smit. You have found a way to work together, black and white, something that very few people seems to grasp. Rather than blaming this on race, see the positive of coalition between countrymen.

  • fconnection - 2011-10-05 07:52

    Clearly not everybody understands how a partnership works . Produce ,pay the running costs then salaries then comes dividends .

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