The Diyatalawa project of Operation Hlasela, between Harrismith and Kestell, was supposed to bring a sustainable income for 50 families, but nothing came of it. This is just another failed agricultural project by Ace Magashule, the former Free State Prime Minister and now the Secretary-General of the ANC who failed.
According to Roy Jankielsohn, DA member and leader of the official opposition in the Free State Legislature, the dairy of R15 million is in disuse and has been neglected. He said in a statement that people who hoped to get a sustainable income from the project are ashamed, just like with the Peace Dairy Project. Jankielsohn, who visited the project last week, says that very little economic activity is taking place there, and that it is just another expensive failed land reform project in the Free State. He explains that the dairy, which originally cost R15 million, has been neglected and serves no purpose. Plowed fields for planting pasture, maize, soybeans and wheat are blown by the wind.
Network 24 reports that the apple orchards were destroyed with shadows hanging from wires. This is the second set of shade nets erected after the first was destroyed in a failed fire attempt. In those apple orchards alone, 20 youths would be trained in fruit production, he says.
Only 19 poor livestock could be seen in an overgrown camp with no water.
The dairy and slaughter livestock had to be replaced at least three times due to irregularities in the preferred procurement process when livestock, which were infested with bruseless, were delivered and had to be destroyed.
The shade nets are hanging in shreds and no apples are being grown as part of the Diyatalawa project.
He says three beneficiaries have been sent to India for mixed farming training, but the people seem to have little farming and farm management skills.
Jankielsohn says Magashule and former president. Jacob Zuma marketed the project in 2009 as a flagship project of the Free State Operation Hlasela, a provincial government service delivery project.
“At the time, the project was marketed as a sustainable agricultural project for 50 families who had to take ownership of it to make a living out of it.”
Mosebenzi Zwane, then MEC for agriculture, said: “We took time to learn about the project. We believe Diyatalawa’s success will be implemented across the country. ”
Jankielsohn says the DA expressed concern about the project in 2011. These included irregularities with the purchase of livestock for the project and the lack of support.
On a visit by the National Council of Provinces (NRP) to the project in 2015, the NRP expressed concern about only a few beneficiaries who worked there and received only R40 a day for it.
The expensive security gate was also a concern.
The expensive security gate of R600 000 is unmanned.
Jankielsohn says more than R150m was originally invested in the project, which was intended to contribute to land reform. Much more money has also been pumped into the project since then to keep it going.
He says the project is located on 2 079 ha of agricultural land in the dysfunctional Maluti-a-Phofung area. It had to include a functional dairy, an apple orchard, slaughterhouse breeding farm and crop fields. It also included 50 homes, a crèche and a school with hostel facilities.
Jankielsohn says he has sent questions about the project to William Bulwane, MEC for agriculture and rural development, and would like to know what his plans are with it.
“Obviously, this project, like the Peace Dairy Farm, has benefited implementation agents at the expense of beneficiaries.”
* On inquiries to Free State Prime Minister Sisi Ntombela, she said Bulwane should answer, but that is in a meeting.
* Bulwane was called twice but did not answer his phone.