‘State land redistribution’ results in intimidation of farmers – Annette Steyn

DA MP says she has received distressed calls from farmers who fear they have to vacate their farms

Chaotic ‘State land redistribution’ resulting in intimidation of productive farmers 

3 February 2021

Following the announcement by the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), Thoko Didiza, that 700 000 hectares of State land will be released for agricultural purposes, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has received distress calls from productive farmers complaining that this announcement was now being used by departmental officials to intimidate them into vacating their farms.

On reviewing some of the reported cases, the DA was surprised to see that farms of some of the farmers being victimized by DALRRD officials are not even listed for redistribution under the 700 000 hectare scheme.

To stop this intimidation, the DA will write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Mandla Mandela, and request that the agenda item on ‘the release of State land’, that is to deliberated on next week, be expanded to include all land that is currently listed for land reform purposes. The DA has enough evidence that intimidation and corruption is taking place on currently occupied land that falls outside the 700 000 hectares announced by the Minister.

In addition, the DA letter to Chairperson Mandela will call on him to issue a directive that all Provinces furnish the Committee with the status of all land that falls under the ambit of the Department’s land reform programme. We need to know:

Which occupants or farmers have received letters or verbal instructions to vacate their land?

What were the reasons given for these eviction orders and who authorised these instructions?

A recent victim of this intimidation campaign is Mr Ivan Cloete, a productive pig farmer who conducts his farming activities at Colenso farm. This week, a rapid intervention from the DA stopped the eviction of Mr Cloete from his farm after DALRRD officials visited him to ask that he hands over the keys and leaves immediately. It is not clear who gave the order for this eviction and why, especially considering the fact that Colenso farm is not listed under the 700 000 hectares land redistribution programme.

There are many farmers out there who are in Mr Cloete’s predicament. Their harassment is a potential indicator of what is to happen to farmers should the disastrous Section 25 Amendment Bill get passed. South Africa could be headed towards a dangerous era where farmers are targeted for eviction with due legal recourse. The DA remains committed to fighting all land expropriation legislation and protect our farmers from undue State interference.

Issued by Annette Steyn,DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development, 3 February 2021