Lack of clarity on multi-million farm purchases by DALRRD raises questions on price gouging

Issued by Noko Masipa MP – DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
03 Sep 2023 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Noko Masipa MP.

Due to lack of transparency from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development (DALRRD) on farm purchases made under the land acquisition programme, the DA has been compelled to submit a PAIA application in order to obtain details of a farm transaction that took place in 2014. This transaction involved the purchase of a farm owned by Fortuinskolk of the Rossouw Olivier Familie Trust in Carnarvon.

Before the submission of the PAIA, we had submitted a parliamentary question about the transaction. We asked Minister Thoko Didiza to provide comprehensive details regarding the comparative market values and prices of farms sold in the Carnarvon area between 2014 and 2023. This was necessary in order to determine whether the farm purchase was in line with realistic market values.

However, Minister Thoko Didiza only furnished information on transactions that occurred in Prieska and Victoria West when questioned about transactions in the Carnarvon District. No transactions from the Carnarvon district were provided. It’s worth noting that Prieska is an irrigation area, whereas Carnarvon is primarily dry land used for sheep farming.

It is for this reason that the DA has submitted a PAIA application to Minister Thoko Didiza and her department specifically seeking comparable figures for farms sold in the Carnarvon District between 2014 and 2020. The focus is solely on this district, and the DA’s oversight suggests that the price paid for the mentioned farm exceeded the typical prices paid for farms in the region.

The DA was taken aback when the Minister provided us with farm sell prices that do not originate from the district. The Department’s track record in Land Reform projects has been marked by significant failures due to various factors, most notably corruption. It is therefore important that transparency and accountability is enforced in farm purchases in order to protect taxpayers from paying inflated prices.