/ 8 July 2014

ANC chief whip defends Modise in farm controversy

National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise.
National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise.

ANC chief whip Stone Sizani on Tuesday defended National Council of Provinces (NCOP) chairperson Thandi Modise, following criticism of her controversial North West farm.

“We have been briefed by the NCOP chairperson regarding the matter and we share her feelings that the situation is unfortunate and indeed should not have happened,” Sizani’s office said. “We are satisfied that she is taking the necessary measures to correct the situation and to ensure it is avoided in future.” 

Sizani’s statement comes after the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it would lay criminal charges against those responsible for animals starving and eating one another on the farm. The society did not indicate whether this would include Modise.

Sizani criticised opposition parties for “politicising the situation”. “We are appalled by attempts by formations such as the DA [Democratic Alliance] to opportunistically use this incident to discredit the land reform programme and to project black farming as inherently a failure,” the office said. 

“This view not only seeks to undermine the important and urgent national programme of correcting the gross injustices of 1913 but also smacks of racist undertones.” The number of animals put down on the farm so far was 120, according to a report in Tuesday’s Beeld

On Monday, sheep, goats, chickens and geese were removed from the farm. The cattle were left behind. Modise said over the past three years she had visited the farm every two weeks. 

She had appointed vets, an environmentalist, an interim farm manager and lawyers to deal with problems on the farm. She learnt of the neglect late on Saturday. Modise said the farm manager had asked for a leave of absence two weeks ago to attend to an urgent family matter. She said she believed his replacement had matters under control and was shocked to learn he had disappeared. 

Meanwhile, DA leader Helen Zille was appointed deputy chairperson of the NCOP on Tuesday, her party said.

Zille, also the premier of the Western Cape, would serve in the rotating position for a year. The position would then be given to a delegate from another province.   

“We congratulate Ms Zille on her election and believe that this would add value to the NCOP,” said DA MP Elza van Lingen.   

“Indeed, the NCOP must assert its relevance in the legislative process and improve its stature in the eyes of South Africans,” Van Lingen said.   

The NCOP is mandated to ensure that provincial interests are taken into account in the national sphere of government. – Sapa