Picture: Democratic Alliance provincial leader Jacques Smalle accompanied by the party’s Shadow Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries Annette Steyn, photographed while visiting the ruined tea estate.
Tzaneen | More than 2,000 workers have lost their jobs in the latest South African “land reform” project, as one of the country’s largest tea plantations, formerly run by Lipton Teas international, has totally collapsed in what some claim was a failed example of the ANC governments land reform policy.
The collapse of the Makgoba Tea Estate (previously known as Sapekoe Tea Estate) near the northern town of Tzaneen contrasts strongly with the plantation’s heyday under white management, when it employed over 6,400 people and was one of the country’s largest suppliers of tea to both local and export markets.
The plantation was operated by international tea maker Lipton since the 1960s, but in 2006, the estate was however taken over by the ANC government in 2006 as part of the “land restitution program” and saw over 600 African families being moved on to the farm to run it.
The ANC also injected over 65 million Rand in “investment” and “loans” to the Africans who all claimed to be “farmers” and “original residents.”
A visit this past week to the estate by a local newspaper, the Bosveld Review, found however that all the fixtures had been stolen, the buildings stripped and desolate, and the formerly pristine rows of tea trees left to be overrun with wild weeds and bush.
According to the newspaper, the surviving tea bushes had been left to grow up to 10 feet high; “the agricultural infrastructure had been stripped and removed from the property and opportunities to create employment looked bleak as planned projects had come to little.”
A forensic report marked ‘for internal use only’ confirmed that the estate was stripped of assets in excess of R121 million and subsequently, in 2011 the department became the caretaker of the estate, the paper quoted local opposition politician Jacques Smalle from the Democratic Alliance.
Smalle said the department appointed the Greater Tzaneen Economic Development Agency to develop a business plan and pumped R65 742 000 into the dilapidated estate between 2011 and 2015.
“It is now clear that no farming activity has taken place for years.
“Deteriorating tractors, pickups and graders belonging to the Limpopo Economic Development Agency (LEDA) were found on site. It then begs the question what the R65 million was spent on, as it is evident that LEDA has done nothing to revitalize this project,” said Smalle.