Citizen Reporter
Reporter
3 minute read
2 Oct 2019
8:47 am

EFF’s ‘donated’ tractor ‘gathering dust’ at Malema ‘party spot’ in Limpopo – report

Citizen Reporter

The vehicle was tracked down to popular party venue near Malema's hometown of Seshego, but the community appeared unclear on how to go about accessing it.

The tractor the EFF "donated" to the Polokwane community Julius Malema hails from may have been paid for by a lucrative tender secured by the City of Johannesburg. Picture: Twitter (@EFFSouthAfrica)

Afrikaans weekly Rapport reported on Sunday that they had tracked down the Farmtrac tractor that was supposedly donated last year by the EFF to communities in Seshego and Blood River.

The tractor has been linked to Afrirent, a company that won a R1.2 billion City of Johannesburg fleet contract and which an amaBhungane report from last year alleged had made payments into an account used for the benefit of the EFF and its leader, Julius Malema.

The tractor last month became the subject of an amaBhungane report detailing evidence that Afrirent paid for it on behalf of the EFF and its political campaigning, allegedly as a kickback to the EFF for its kingmaker role in the Joburg metro.

While campaigning in December last year, the EFF donated the tractor to the Seshego community, which Malema hails from. Two days later, he appeared to donate another one to a nearby community in Blood River, but it turned out to simply be the same tractor.

The Citizen reported at the time that it was unclear whether the two communities each got a tractor of their own.

However, neither of them were evidently allowed to keep the vehicle.

Rapport found the blue tractor in a yard at Mekete Lodge, about 23km from Seshego. It’s believed the lodge may partly now belong to Malema or be under his control, along with partners. Daily Maverick reported that Malema, through a company linked to him, spent more than R400,000 on the lodge last year from money allegedly looted from the collapsed VBS Mutual Bank.

The venue is known as a popular hangout and party spot.

One of Malema’s family members, cousin Matsobane Phaleng, was quoted by Daily Maverick as saying: “We run our hospitality business at Mekete, and we also host public events and bring famous local and national artists and DJs at Mekete, and we charge for entrance and sell food and beverages”. Phaleng described Malema as “one of our good patrons, and we really appreciate his support”.

The property used to be owned by businessman Matome Hlabioa, who died in 2015, and was very close to Malema, regarding him “as a son”.

Rapport said they could see little evidence of agricultural activity in the area, with community members complaining there is a lack of available land for farming.

An unnamed female small-scale farmer told the paper there wasn’t much clarity about how people could go about using the tractor, and she suspected it was only for EFF supporters. She said people who needed a tractor still had to go and hire one.

Blood River residents confirmed it had been seen in use at least twice, but was allegedly only available to older people.

Rapport took photos of the tractor standing next to a construction vehicle they described as a “bulldozer”, but was in fact a backhoe.

AmaBhungane’s earlier reports appeared to substantiate longstanding rumours that Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba has essentially bought the EFF’s loyalty in the city, which he is governing with the unofficial support of the EFF.

Some believe “the EFF was given patronage over lucrative City of Johannesburg tenders as a quid pro quo for working with Herman Mashaba’s DA-led administration,” something that appears to be substantiated by the payments an earlier amaBhungane report alleged were made to accounts belonging to a company fronted by Malema’s cousin, which are believed to have been used as a “slush fund” for the EFF and Malema.

The company, Mahuna Investments, is the same one that reports by The Daily Maverick’s investigative journalism wing Scorpio say received payments resulting from the alleged looting of VBS Bank.

Malema and the EFF have denied having benefited from kickbacks relating to the Afrirent tender, and the company likewise denied knowing of any link between Mahuna and the party or Malema.

The party, however, failed to comment to Rapport about their discovery of the tractor.

(Compiled by Charles Cilliers)

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