Western Cape govt warns against 'state capture' of farms earmarked for land reform

Ivan Cloete and Western Cape Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer on a tractor.
Ivan Cloete and Western Cape Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer on a tractor.
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  • The Western Cape's agriculture department has called on national government to make sure that land reform does not benefit politicians and their friends.  
  • Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer has warned that the attempted eviction of Darling farmer, Ivan Cloete, highlighted the risk of improper conduct regarding the allocation of state-owned farms.  
  • He said it seems as though the national government is trying to destabilise the agriculture sector in its handling of land reform.  

The Western Cape's Agriculture Department has called on national government to make sure that land reform does not benefit politicians and their friends.  

Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer warned that the attempted eviction of Ivan Cloete highlighted the risk of improper conduct regarding the allocation of state-owned farms.  

"Speaker, as highlighted by the recent Ivan Cloete case, the National Government seems determined to destabilise the agricultural Sector," said Meyer in his Budget speech in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament on Monday.  

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"Land appropriation without compensation and improper conduct of officials in the allocation of state-owned farms poses a huge risk to the agricultural economy," the MEC warned. 

He said that the Ivan Cloete case portrayed the Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) as, "... cruel and lacking empathy".  

Cloete was about to be evicted from a farm, Colenso, allocated to him in Darling, but the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza found irregularities with the department's land acquisition strategy in this case.  

The National Land Acquisition and Allocation Control Committee had wanted Cloete evicted to make way for an uMkhonto weSizwe veteran.  

He was allocated a farm, but then given a relocation notice.  

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"The reasons tabled on the investigation report highlight the suspicious predetermined decision by senior officials at a provincial and national level to allocate the farm to military veterans, leaving Mr Cloete stranded once again," Didiza told Parliament. 

The department said the decision to evict Cloete should be set aside.

"The National Government must assure South Africans that land reform is not used to benefit politicians and their friends," said Meyer.  

"It is unfair and unjust to do so at the expense of hard-working and deserving land reform applicants. The bottom line is that DALRRD must not repeat Ivan Cloete's treatment.  

"Replacing productive farmers with politically linked individuals places South Africa's food security at risk. Agriculture is an important sector of the economy of SA, and we cannot allow the state capture of farmland to continue." 

Meyer was providing information on the department's Budget.  

This includes a Rural Safety Desk to log inquiries on rural safety matters, and a Rural Safety Monitoring Dashboard to record all rural crime reported to the department.  

The opposition ANC in the legislature said it supported Didiza's efforts regarding Cloete, but remained concerned that the department and the Budget makes no explicit provision for questions of race, and a lack of recognition of SMMEs from poorer areas and women. 

"The large majority of agricultural land, somewhat 92%, remains in the hands of white farm owners; and farm or agri-workers continue to be exploited and their safety remains uncertain, especially in respect of physical harm and evictions," said ANC LPL, Pat Marran.

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