R55 MILLION MUNICIPAL FARMS PURCHASE SCANDAL MUST BE INVESTIGATED

The DA calls for an urgent and thorough investigation by the MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs, Sicelo Gqobana, into the R55 million purchasing scandal for five farms by the OR Tambo District Municipality – not only at an inflated price, but outside the Eastern Cape.

The DA raised questions in August last year about the transaction, but was given an evasive answer by the ANC. The question is, why did the ANC not fully investigate the matter then, to protect taxpayer’s money.

Provincial DA leader Athol Trollip had asked the MEC for Agriculture whether he had been informed that the purchase price far exceeded the market value of the five farms in question. It was also questioned why the two State institutions, namely the Department of Land Affairs in Kwazulu-Natal and the OR Tambo District Municipality was allowed to bid against each other, and why the municipality was bidding for land outside the municipal and provincial boundaries.

It has now emerged that over and above the purchase price of R25 million, a further R20 million was paid for equipment and livestock and R10,5 million was forked out to keep the farms going. This totals a staggering R55,5 million. The allocation from the Provincial Department of Local Government to OR Tambo for 2009/10 was a mere R5,8 million.

How could the OR Tambo District Municipality make this exorbitant purchase while the poorest of the poor continue to suffer. It is symptomatic of the ongoing mismanagement of the political leaders in the ANC. This is not freedom and democracy. It must stop. This is undermining opportunity for the residents of that extremely poor municipality.

I will be asking questions for oral reply in the house to the MECs for Local Government and for Agriculture, at the next sitting of the Eastern Cape Legislature, scheduled for the last week November and first week of December.

For further information, please contact Bobby Stevenson, MPL on 082 775 3444.