The following debate was tabled by Jane Sithole MPL during the sitting of the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature on Friday, 27 August 2021.
“Hon. Speaker, the Democratic Alliance welcomes this debate as it is long overdue, particularly in our Province. Before I get into the debate itself, let me remind this house that in June 2015, just before the local government elections of 2016, the Mpumalanga Provincial Government established a commission of inquiry to investigate and report on the living conditions of farm dwellers.
And I quote, “It will be the duty of this commission to identify critical areas requiring our intervention, including, but not limited to issues related to the protection of human rights, safety, security of tenure, employment, access to housing and basic services, and working conditions,” as former Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza said at that time.
He further said that the recommendations will be used to identify the interventions required by the province to address the livelihoods and living conditions of these rural families.
Guess what happened since then Hon. Speaker, NOTHING!
A whopping R10 million was set aside to remunerate members of that commission of inquiry in 2015, they earned the money, they left and no action was taken as usual. Their report was completed in March 2016 and it is probably gathering dust somewhere in this building of the Legislature.
Today, the very same government want to pretend as if they care about the brutal killings of our farmers, farm dwellers, and farm workers because again local government elections are approaching and they have nothing to offer the residents of this province and the residents of Mkhondo than to fuel racial tensions for their own narrow political gain.
They are using the death of the Coka brothers (may their souls continue to rest and peace) to divide the community of Mkhondo to fuel racial tensions and to mobilize for elections on the basis of racial hatred.
For far too long the outcry on the abuses, torture, brutalities, and killing of farmers, farm workers, and farm dwellers in the province especially in the area of Mkhondo Municipality has not been addressed because this government is not interested in addressing this issue.
They are only interested in grandstanding to fuel racial hatred.
These commissions of inquiry established by the ruling party just before every election are not meant to address these issues, they are merely public relations exercises designed to place the ANC in the spotlight to look like they are doing something yet they know very well that they are doing nothing to address this issue.
Hon. Speaker, may I remind this house that it is this government that stopped the rural safety units that used to protect our farming communities. It is this government that stopped all farm patrols during the lockdown and farm killings soared including the killing of the Coka brothers and today you want the people of Mpumalanga to believe that you actually care about the killing of our farmers, farm dwellers, and farm workers in this Province. It is a fact that this government does not care that our farming communities are under attack.
The people of Mpumalanga and especially the people of Mkhondo are sick and tired of commissions of inquiry and grand speeches by politicians on podiums like this, the people want solutions. Farmers, farm dwellers, and farmworkers live in fear in Mpumalanga, especially in the areas of Mkhondo.
If this government continues to turn a blind eye to the plight of farmers, farm dwellers, farm workers and their families, who are often brutally murdered, know that their blood is in your hands.
Hon. Speaker, the DA is for fairness, the DA is for the rule of law and justice must prevail in ALL farm murders including that of the Coka brothers. One life lost is one too many.
• Stop grandstanding and address the issue of the brutal killings of farmers, farm dwellers, and farm workers
• Stop mobilizing on the basis of racial hatred
• Stop sowing divisions amongst our people
• Stop spitting hatred venom whenever you get an opportunity and
• Stop pretending to be addressing this issue because you are NOT!
How many more farmers, farm workers, and farm dwellers must be killed before this government stops the race-baiting and realize that these are people who leave families reeling behind. From Dipaleseng to Mbombela to Emakhazeni to Mkhondo, wake up and smell the blood of farmers, farm dwellers, and farm workers across the Province.
In conclusion, Hon. Speaker, I find it shocking that even though Agri SA’s Christo van der Rheede appealed to Deputy President, DD Mabuza, to facilitate a meeting between the farmers and the community of Mkhondo to reduce the racial tensions, this still did not happen to prove that you don’t care and you are not interested in addressing this issue. Bring back the rural safety units to protect our farming communities.
It’s time for action, time for grand speeches is no more, the people of Mpumalanga and especially the people of Mkhondo are looking for solutions!”