Meeting with farmers on the sidelines of the Taking Legislature to the People program in Lekwa, Premier DD Mabuza said all problems can be addressed amicably.
Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza has established an agricultural forum for both commercial and emerging farmers at Lekwa Municipality.
Premier Mabuza held a meeting with the farmers on Thursday in Standerton as part of Taking the Legislature to the People programme.
During the meeting, farmers told the Premier their challenges and frustrations they experienced in running the agricultural activities within the municipality, which created tension between the commercial and emerging farmers.
The emerging farmers complained to the Premier about illegal evictions from the farms, and that their stock were allowed to graze as there was confusion about the ownership of the farms.
They further asked the Premier to facilitate that government lease the land for them to breed their stock.
On the other hand, the commercial farmers complained to the Premier about the lack of peace and stability within the farms due to stock theft. They raised concerns about the poor road infrastructure and the lack of agricultural research institutions in the province.
They also told the Premier that illegal land invasion also created problems for them as structures were illegally built in their farms. They told to Premier to ensure that the emerging farmers should be given title deeds to avoid confrontations on land ownership.
The Premier said an agricultural forum for Lekwa farmers would be established within seven days and that it would be led by the Member of the Executive Council of the Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Land Environmental Affairs, South African Police Service, the executive mayor of Lekwa Municipality and the farmers.
He said the forum would deal with all the problems faced by the farmers. The Premier added that the Department of Agriculture Rural Development Land and Environmental Affairs would conduct an audit of government owned land, and subsequently leases it to the emerging farmers.
“We are capable of solving our own problems amicably, we do not always have to rush to the courts to have our disputed resolved. I am calling on the farmers not to evict people and out them on the streets, they should tell us, we will find land for them.
“People can have the farms as long as they will till the land and produce food, we will conduct a land audit on government-owned farms and we will make them available for the people,” said Premier Mabuza.
He called on the farm dwellers to stop stealing stock of the farm owners saying they needed to work together.
“As a country we don’t have any other option but to coexist and live together,” he said.
*Mncwango is the spokesperson of the Mpumalanga Provincial Government.