Corrupt evictions of farmers and incompetent state are on both sides of the same coin

Recently, the Minister of Public Service and Administration, Senzo Mchunu, announced that 35% of the senior civil servants do not have the necessary qualifications. Free State Agriculture (FSA) last week expressed its concern about the state’s inability to govern the country properly in terms of service delivery. In this climate, the government wants to create radical economic legislation and amend the constitution. Agriculture will not allow the injustice to continue untested and without resistance.

According to Francois Wilken, president of Free State Agriculture, it is clear that the government is incompetent and out of a position of very poor governance proposes radical legislation that centralizes land and other property in the same weak government.

Furthermore, during a meeting with the Mkhuli-AfriForum Association, consisting of the 37 farmers, Thoko Didiza, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, acknowledged that there was corruption in the department. It appears that farmers have lost their leases following the demand that they pay R250 000 each in ‘administration fees’. Didiza acknowledged that some of the eviction orders were clearly criminal, and that there was a lack of communication between her department and farmers’ associations. She further acknowledged that eviction orders could only be issued with ministerial approval – worryingly absent in the case of the 37 farmers.

Free State Agriculture had already written to Didiza in July 2020 about the demands for ‘administration fees’. In addition, farmers’ attempts to negotiate were ignored, as in the case of Thabani Nxumalo. Nxumalo made a written offer to resign from his post as Eskom engineer, after being told that as a civil servant he did not qualify for the state land on which he had been farming for more than 15 years. Nxumalo’s offer was ignored and he was simply ordered to leave.

Such cases indicate a worrying lack of accountability of local government, and a lack of effective management of state land. With the looming expropriation without compensation bill now before parliament, the case of these 37 farmers raises serious questions. “Given existing corruption and incompetence in the management of state land, what are the implications once expropriation without compensation is set in motion? The possibilities for further corruption and mismanagement seem clear, with extremely disruptive consequences for the lives of all emerging and new farmers,” says Wilken.

Free State Agriculture (FSA) regards the case of the above 37 farmers as a call to take action against expropriation without compensation. This case should show the state’s inability to hold its local representatives accountable and prevent corrupt practices. In addition, the potential upheaval of farmers’ production has significant implications for the whole country, as such upheavals will inevitably be reflected in the market. It is therefore essential to stand firm against expropriation without compensation, which FSA will continue to do.

Korrupte uitsettings van boere en onbekwame staat is weerskante van dieselfde muntstuk

Onlangs het die minister van staatsdiens en administrasie, Senzo Mchunu, bekend gemaak dat 35% van die senior amptenare in die staatsdiens nie oor die nodige kwalifikasies beskik nie. Vrystaat Landbou (VL) het verlede week sy kommer uitgespreek oor die staat se onbevoegdheid om die land behoorlik te regeer wat dienslewering betref. In dié klimaat wil die regering radikale ekonomiese wetgewing skep en die grondwet wysig. Landbou sal nie toelaat dat die onreg ongetoets en sonder weerstand voortgaan nie.

Volgens Francois Wilken, president van Vrystaat Landbou, is dit duidelik dat die regering onbevoeg is en uit ʼn posisie van baie swak staatsbestuur radikale wetgewing voorstel wat grond en ander eiendom sentraliseer in dieselfde swak regering.

Verder het Thoko Didiza, Minister van Landbou, Grondhervorming en Landelike Ontwikkeling, tydens ‘n vergadering met die Mkhuli-AfriForum-vereniging, bestaande uit die 37 boere, erken dat daar korrupsie in die departement is. Dit blyk dat boere hul huurkontrakte verloor het na aanleiding van die eis dat hulle R250 000 elk aan ‘administrasiefooie’ moet betaal. Didiza het erken dat sommige van die uitsettingsbevele duidelik misdadig was, en dat daar ‘n gebrek aan kommunikasie tussen haar departement en boereverenigings was. Sy het verder erken dat uitsettingsbevele slegs met ministeriële goedkeuring uitgereik kan word – kommerwekkend afwesig in die geval van die 37 boere.

Vrystaat Landbou het reeds in Julie 2020 aan Didiza geskryf oor die eise vir ‘administrasiefooie’. Daarbenewens is boere se pogings om te onderhandel geïgnoreer, soos in die geval van Thabani Nxumalo. Nxumalo het ‘n skriftelike aanbod gemaak om uit sy pos as Eskom-ingenieur te bedank, nadat hy gesê is dat hy as staatsamptenaar nie kwalifiseer vir die staatsgrond waarop hy reeds meer as 15 jaar geboer het nie. Nxumalo se aanbod is geïgnoreer en hy is eenvoudig beveel om te vertrek.

Sulke gevalle dui op ‘n kommerwekkende gebrek aan aanspreeklikheid van die plaaslike regering, en ‘n gebrek aan effektiewe bestuur van staatsgrond. Met die dreigende wetsontwerp op onteiening sonder vergoeding wat nou voor die parlement staan, stel die saak van hierdie 37 boere ernstige vrae. “Gegewe bestaande korrupsie en onbekwaamheid in die bestuur van staatsgrond, wat is die implikasies sodra onteiening sonder vergoeding in beweging gesit word? Die moontlikhede vir verdere korrupsie en wanbestuur lyk duidelik, met uiters ontwrigtende gevolge vir die lewens van alle opkomende en nuwe boere.”, sê Wilken.

Vrystaat Landbou (VL) beskou die saak van die bogenoemde 37 boere as ‘n oproep om teen onteiening sonder vergoeding op te tree. Hierdie saak moet die staat se onbevoegdheid toon om sy plaaslike verteenwoordigers aanspreeklik te hou en korrupte praktyke te voorkom. Boonop het die potensiële omwenteling van boere se produksie aansienlike implikasies vir die hele land, aangesien sulke omwentelinge onvermydelik op die mark weerspieël sal word. Dit is dus noodsaaklik om standvastig teen onteiening sonder vergoeding te staan, wat VL sal aanhou doen.