Government wants to take land away from successful black farmer
Mfana Sithole turned a Mpumalanga farm into a success, but a government department wants to return the land to workers who had let it fall into disarray.
An Mpumalanga farmer is set to lodge a complaint with the public protector after the attempts of the province’s department of rural development and land reform to get him off a property he has been leasing since 2009, so they can return it to former farm workers who are alleged to have left the farm in dissaray, City Press has reported.
Mfana Sithole started leasing the Richtershoek Farm outside Malelane in 2009, managing to turn it into a success story with the help of a R14 million government grant.
According to Sithole, when he arrived: “All the farm’s implements, equipment and machinery were either broken down or stolen. There was no electricity and there were no water connections and no water rights.”
But Sithole managed to turn things around, with the farm now being a productive one growing large amounts of sugar cane, vegetables and seed maize as well as boasting goats and pigs.
But Sithole may have to move out soon as the Mpumalanga department of rural development and land reform has refused to renew his lease, saying they want to return it to former farm workers who were tasked with running the farm in 2006.
According to Sithole, “at first I thought this was a joke. Most of these workers abandoned the farm, stole everything and left. Secondly, there is nothing proving that they have undergone any agricultural training after the first disaster,” he said.
“Why do they remove a successful black farmer from a farm which he has resuscitated, and replace him with an entity that has not proved itself?” he continued.
READ MORE: Share the land, says Ramaphosa
This story is perhaps an indication that president Cyril Ramaphosa’s vision of inclusive land reform may not be easy to achieve.
Ramaphosa recently said the land should be shared in South Africa so that everyone has an opportunity to benefit from what it has to offer.
“We must make sure that everything which is in our country we share… It must never be that a small group of people just take what this country has to give and hold it to themselves and say it belongs to them only,” he said at the Biodiversity Economy Innovation conference in Thohoyandou in Limpopo.
South Africa belonged to every citizen living in it. “All of this belongs to all of us, and this is what this government wants to make sure,” he said to loud cheers.
It was necessary to address the country’s historical injustices, which could be done in a lawful manner which would not compromise the economy or food security, Ramaphosa said.