Members of the Mlungisi Farmers’ Association (MFA) on Tuesday picketed outside the local public works department offices to submit a petition demanding that grazing land be made available for their livestock.
The group of about 30 people sang outside the premises, carrying placards requesting the attention of MEC Lubabalo Madikizela to assist them in their quest for land.
The picket was preceded by several attempts by the MFA to obtain grazing land for their livestock on government farms surrounding Komani.
Two Trees Farm which is located just outside Komani is one of the farms that MFA said they identified as having interest in once the previous lessee of the land had vacated it.
However, a new tenant was recently given caretakership of the farm, followed by a court interdict by the department to bar the MFA from the farm.
MFA chairman Zola Magoqoza indicated that in all their attempts to obtain grazing land, they had spoken to several people about their grievances, but had not spoken to the MEC for public works.
“I have personally spoken to the premier about this on behalf of the association, but we did not get much assistance. We decided to get the attention of the MEC for public works as it was his department that gave away the land we hoped for. We want someone to explain to us how a government that claims to be for the people would prioritise an individual at the expense of an organised group which had requested land for years.”
Magoqoza said the purpose of the petition was for someone at the department to explain to them how the new tenant obtained the farm without its availability being announced so that interested parties could apply.
“We have nothing against the new tenant personally, because the farm was given to him by the department. Hence we demand that someone explain to us how he got the farm because we were under the impression that when it was available for occupancy, that information should have been made available for all interested parties to apply.
“We have given them 14 days to respond, failing which we will be back here with our placards to demand a response.”
Magoqoza said they would fight the issue of Two Trees Farm until something was done, because land was being stolen in plain sight with government’s assistance.
Public works employees were denied entrance to the premises, with MFA members indicating they would allow them in once the department’s regional director, Zamile Kalako, received the petition.