Didiza’s tenure at Agriculture a warning sign for Tshwane – Solly Msimanga

DA says Capital can look forward to another 5 years of dysfunctional governance if ANC was to win

Didiza’s tenure at Agriculture a warning sign for Tshwane

13 July 2016

If Zuma’s imposed Mayoral Candidate, Thoko Didiza’s tenure as Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs is anything to go by, then the people of Tshwane can look forward to another 5 years of dysfunctional government if the ANC were to win on 3 August.

With 517,000 unemployed during Mayor Ramokgopa’s tenure, this is not something that the people of Tshwane can afford.

At a time when the City of Tshwane needs decisive leadership to move it forward again, Didiza’s record at the Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs paints a picture of a politician woefully inexperienced to manage the Capital.

- Upon her appointment she marginalised the former Minister’s staff, resulting in the resignations of the Director-General, 3 x Deputy Directors-General, 5 x Chief Directors, 4 x Directors, and 3 x land claims commissioners. 

- The purged staff members were replaced with yes-men, lacking skills, experience and competence. This led to a complete lack in institutional memory, which greatly weakened the Department.

- Didiza was considered to be out of touch; a “political player” more at home in meetings than in rural communities.

- In 2001 when the ANC used the Apartheid-era 1959 Trespass Act and the Red Ants to evict settlers from a piece of land in Bredell, Didiza proclaimed “these people must go back to where they came from.”

- Many of her responsibilities, allegedly including preparing her speeches, were delegated to the Director General, Bongiwe Njobe, who was said to be running the show because Didiza lacked confidence.

- As a result of uncertainty over key policy issues, and a moratorium on new redistribution projects instituted by Didiza, the land reform process ground to a halt.

- Her flagship Land Reform and Agricultural Development Programme (LRAD) was a disaster that failed to meet targets and deadlines, running out of money within 2 years of its launch. In 2003 Didiza instructed the Land Bank to continue accepting LRAD applications but not to process them.

- Didiza ignored warnings from former Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel, concerning the situation at the Land Bank and its reckless lending practices. 

Didiza was out of her depth as Minister of Agriculture and out of touch with those she was meant to serve. Turning the City of Tshwane around will represent an even bigger challenge given the mammoth task.

Didiza comes to Tshwane as a lame-duck candidate who will spend much of her time dealing with the ANC’s factional battles in the City. Given her lack of experience, and divided focus, the needs of the people of Tshwane will come in a distant second. 

The City of Tshwane needs real leadership if we are to make progress in creating jobs for the half a million unemployed residents of Tshwane, and improve service delivery to those who are without housing, water and sanitation.

Only the DA can bring the change Tshwane needs to move forward through an honest and responsive government that will stop corruption, deliver better services and create jobs.

Issued by Motheo Mtimkulu, Media Manager, Tshwane Mayoral Candidate, 13 July 2016