‘Farms given only to elite’

Mbon­geni Ngema given a farm in KZN

The Witness - - FRONT PAGE - CLIVE NDOU • [email protected]­ness.co.za

THE­ De­part­ment­ of­ Ru­ral­ De­vel­op­ment­and­ Land­ Af­fairs­ has­ been­di shin gout­KZN­ state­ farms­ to­ the­ elite ,­ in­clud­ing­theatre­pro­ducer­ M bong en i­N gem a .­ An­ in­ves­ti­ga­tion­ by­ The Wit­ness has­ re­vealed­ that­ ru­ral­ com­mu­ni­ties­around­ Ulundi­ in­ Nor the rn­KZN­w here­ the­ de­part­ment­ has­ been­ ac­quir­ing­ sev­eral­farm s­in­ re­cent­ years ,­ were­ left­ high­ and­ dry­ af­ter­ the­ prop­er­ties­ were­ given­ to­ the­ elite.

Ngema,­who­is­not­new­to­con­tro­versy,has­ been­ al­lo­cated­ the­ Toeg­gerkryFarm­out­side­Ulundi.­This­is­de­spite­the­fact­ that­ com­mu­ni­ties­ liv­ing­ aroundthe­area,­in­clud­ing­farm­labour­ers,­had­been­ wait­ing­ for­ sev­eral­ for­ years­ forthe­de­part­ment­to­al­lo­cate­them­sec­tions­of­land­within­the­prop­erty.

It­ has­ also­ been­ es­tab­lished­ that­ thede­part­ment­ is­ cur­rently­ in­ the­ pro­ces­sof­ trans­fer­ring­ the­ K on ningskroonFarm­ in­ the­ same­ area­ to­ Zulu­ KingGood­will­ Zwelithini.

De­spite­pleas­by­the­pre­vi­ous­ownerof­Kon­ningskroon,­Paul­Smith,­that­the­ de­part­ment­should­en­sure­that­for­merem­ploy­ees­ of­ the­ farm­ were­ given­ as­take,­ the­ de­part­ment­ com­pletely­ ig­nored­the­re­quest,­ex­pos­ing­the­labour­ers­to­sum­mary­evic­tions.

Other­ prop­er­ties­ which­ the­ de­part­men­tal­lo­cated­ to­ in­di­vid­u­als,­in­clud­ing­a­ busi­ness man­ from­ Jo­han­nes­burg ,­ ar e­M elk om­and­Vitk lip­ farms.

Dozens­of­fam­i­lies­whose­an­ces­tors­ lived­on­the­farms­in­the­19th­cen­tu­ryshortly­be­fore­the­prop­er­ties­were­con­fis­cat­edby­ ear­lier­ colo­nial­ists,­ werea­mong­peo­ple­that­the­de­part­ment­has­failed­to­cater­for­in­its­land­re­dis­tri­bu­tion­pro­gramme.

The­ or­gan­i­sa­tion­ fight­ing­ for­ therights­of­ru­ral­com­mu­ni­ties­and­far­md­wellers,­the­Land­less­Peo­ple’s­Move­when­the­de­part­ment’s­of­fi­cials­started­ ment­(LPM),­claims­the­de­part­ment­al­lo­cated­the­farms­un­der­a­veil­of­se­crecy.LPM­ sec­re­tary­ Msizeni­ Mag­waza­said:­ “Ini­tially,­ de­part­ment­ of­fi­cial­swere­ en­gag­ing­ lo­cal­ com­mu­ni­tiesabout­the­farms,­and­at­one­stage­peo­plewere­ given­ as­sur­ances­ that­ theirneeds­ will­ be­ taken­ care­ of­ with­ the­farms­that­had­been­ac­quired­by­gov­ern­ment.How­ever,­ things­ changed­ to­in­vite­just­a­few­in­di­vid­u­als­to­meet­ings,­shut­ting­the­door­on­peo­ple­whoshould­be­the­real­ben­e­fi­cia­ries­of­the­gov­ern­ment­land­pro­gramme.”

The­de­part­ment­ac­quired­two­of­the­farms,­Kon­ningskroon­and­Dor­fontein,from­Ezemvelo­KZN­Wildlife,­in­a­ques­tion­able­deal­re­cently­re­ported­by­The Wit­ness.

Ezemvelo,­which­had­bought­the­two­farms­in­2015­for­R25­mil­lion,­only­to­trans­fer­ them­ to­ the­ de­part­ment­ twoyears­later,­said­it­had­dis­posed­of­the­p­rop­er­ties­af­ter­the­con­ser­va­tion­en­ti­ty­dis­cov­ered­­there­were­graves­in­some­por­tions­of­the­farms.

How­ever ,­ Mag­waz a­s aid­Ezemvelo’ sex­pla­na­tion­ was­ not­ con­vinc­ing.

“If­they­had­sold­them­be­cause­ofthe­graves­then­they­should­have­sol­dthem­to­Amafa,­which­is­the­cus­to­di­anof­her­itage­sites­in­the­prov­ince.­If­theis­sue­of­the­graves­was­a­gen­uine­con­cern­why­then­did­the­de­part­ment­al­lo­cate­the­farms­to­in­di­vid­u­als,”­he­said.

Ngema­ con­firmed­ that­ the­ Toeg­gerkry­Farm­was­al­lo­cated­to­him.

“They­gave­me­the­prop­erty­but­not­the­whole­farm­—­I­got­only­half­of­the­farm,”­he­said.

While­The Wit­ness is­in­pos­ses­sionof­a­let­ter­by­the­de­part­ment’s­chief­di­rec­tor­of­land­ten­ants­con­firm­ing­thatZwelithini­was­in­ter­ested­in­the­Kon­ningskroon­Farm,­the­Royal­House­holdTrust­ said­ the­ de­part­ment­ had­ not­briefed­it­about­the­prop­erty.

“The­farm­is­not­in­our­records,”­Royal­House­hold­Trust­chair­per­son,­Si­hauM­batha,­said.

Ngema,­who­is­breed­ing­cat­tle­at­the­farm,­has­pre­vi­ously­been­em­broiled­in­con­tro­versy.­In­1995­there­was­a­pub­li­coutcry­af­ter­the­De­part­ment­of­healthun­der­the­now­min­is­ter­in­the­Pres­i­dency­Nkosazana­Dlamini-Zuma,­awardeda­R14,7­mil­lion­con­tract­to­Ngema­topro­duce­a­se­quel­to­the­mu­si­cal,­Sara­fina,­as­part­of­the­de­part­ment’s­HIVaware­ness­cam­paign.

De­spite­ be­ing­ sent­ ques­tions­ twoweeks­ago,­the­de­part­ment­is­yet­to­re­spond.­Spokesper­son­Moses­Ran­ndit­sheni­said­he­was­await­ing­re­spons­es­from­the­rel­e­vant­units.

“... things changed when the de­part­ment’s of­fi­cials started to in­vite just a few in­di­vid­u­als to meet­ings, shut­ting the door on peo­ple who should be the real ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the gov­ern­ment land pro­gramme.”

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