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MEC qualified for scheme

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At the time of submitting an application for an interest-free loan to buy cattle from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Nguni Cattle Trust in 2013, Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Joy Matshoge was neither an MEC nor a member of any of the three entities comprising the IDC Nguni Trust Scheme namely the IDC, Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the University of Limpopo.
“She had no influence whatsoever on the decisions regarding the allocations of the cattle. In terms of the criteria of the scheme those who are excluded as beneficiaries are the current employees of the three entities. The Department does not set the criteria nor manage and control the process of allocating the cattle. The IDC Nguni Trust Scheme is the project implementer and is responsible for the identification and selection, allocation and support of the beneficiaries. In 2013, the MEC met the criteria as outlined in the IDC Nguni Trust Scheme,” Spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Sipho Dikgale said.
Democratic Alliance (DA) Provincial Leader Jacques Smalle laid charges with the Public Protector against Matshoge who allegedly received cattle worth about R1 million from the IDC Nguni Cattle Trust. In a press release Smalle stated that the farm on which the cattle are kept, Du Toits­kraal, near Marken, is leased from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform by Matshoge. This allegation was refuted by Dikgale. “The farm was leased directly from Mookgophong Municipality before she became an MEC. When she was appointed as MEC in 2014, the farm was already under her name,” Dikgale said.
The Limpopo IDC-Nguni Cattle Development Trust is a partnership development orientated institution formed by the three entities with the objective to upgrade cattle in the rural areas of the province through the reintroduction of Nguni bloodlines and the creation of commercial benefits for the emerging beef production farmers.
“MEC Matshoge is constitutionally mandated to high standards of professional ethics in her position,” Smalle’s statement read. He accused Matshoge of abusing her position for self-enrichment and creating a conflict of interest between her office and her private interest, compromising the integrity of government. “The DA believes that development projects like these should only benefit the disadvantaged poor and not the political elite.”
Smalle also submitted a member statement in the Legislature asking the Premier to suspend Matshoge with immediate effect and to investigate the matter in terms of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act. He said the DA would also request the Speaker of the Legislature to verify the MEC’s disclosure in the asset register.
Matshoge reportedly applied for the loan while still interim ANC Secretary in 2013.
According to a Department of Agriculture’s press release upon the initial introduction of the scheme, the trust lends to successful applicants a herd of 30 Nguni heifers and a bull for five years. Within the five years, farmers are required to reimburse the money for an equivalent number of cattle in quantity and quality to the Trust or reimburse the trust in the form of cattle. The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development oversees the Nguni cattle development by deploying the necessary technical support staff, providing funds for cattle procurement and infrastructure rehabilitation programmes for the selected farms as investment priorities, according to the statement.
Asked whether the MEC declared her interest-free loan and the cattle she received to the Legislature, Dikgale said: “Only the employer can divulge such information; I am not privy to employer-employee relationship information.”




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