What could have been a beacon of the Land Reform programme has been a disaster for the beneficiaries of the Keobusitswe Communal Property Association (KCPA) for the Mokgola community, outside Zeerust. Daniel Dire (43) has worked for more than 8 months without pay due to KCPA infightings. The CPA began in 1996 as a vehicle to help communities to reclaim, manage and hold land, it falls under ministry of land reform and rural development.
Before Thaba Tshimo game farm was sold to the government by Piet Fett, Dire had rendered his service for more than 9 years to his previous boss, Fett. Realizing that Dire was highly valuable assets to be kept, the KPCA decided to absorb him as a farm manager.
Employed without a formal contract, Dire said that this desperate situation is causing distress to his family of three, “I have been unable to look after my two kids and wife for more than 8 months now and that makes me weak. I have always provided for my kids but now I am failing to do what I am supposed to do,” Dire said.
“My daughter is doing Grade 12, she asked me to buy her a school blazer but I know that that won’t be easy for me because I am not going to afford it. I just hope that the management is able to address their infightings so that projects may start,” Dire added.
Dire reminisced about the good old days when the farm was still owned and run by Piet Fett. He says that tourists used to come from as far as Europe and North America for gaming, and they would tip them with Dollars. Now, there are trees and grass everywhere even where the car is supposed to be going.
He is preparing a fire for cooking a chicken that he was given by a neighbouring farmer. He says that the farmer gives him a chicken which he would eat for a few days and in turn, he does some odd jobs on the neighbouring farm.
The interim chairperson of KCPA, Herman Kutswa (60), acknowledges that Dire has not been paid for over 8 months. “We are aware of Dire’s plight hence we have always told him that as soon as we have resolved our problems then we are going to formally absorb him. There may be gaming soon where we might be able to make some money, and we will pay him as soon as we have the money,” said Kutswa.
The interim committee led by Kutswa took over at the end of last year realizing that the 5 year term has collapsed for the other committee which still claims that they are the rightful management of this organization. There is another third group that claims to be an ad hoc committee yet they do not have access to the properties owned by KCPA.
The divisions and infighting within the KPCA are continuing to wreak havoc as all 5 farms under the organization are collapsing. Unlike Dire, all employees who were hired or absorbed by KPCA abandoned their duties as a result of not being paid. They were never given formal employment contracts.
In its annual report, the CPA said “Factors contributing to low levels of compliance in the North West province entail mismanagement of CPA bank accounts and embezzlement of funds with impunity. Therefore, power struggles arise because everyone wants to be on the committee for personal financial benefit”.
Allegedly, the KCPA had R1.4m in 2016 when the new committee led by Kabelo Moremedi took over. 6 years later, the organization is battling to pay a single worker, they allegedly have below R10 000 in their bank account, are alleged to be owing Eskom about R122 000 for one of the farms and there is an alleged legal debt which they have to settle.