Holy cow: The curious case of the Free State’s cattle donations | Fin24
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Holy cow: The curious case of the Free State’s cattle donations

Aug 16 2019 16:30
Khulekani Magubane, Fin24

A written reply to the Free State Provincial Legislature by the MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development William Bulwane has shed light on a series of donations made by the provincial department to various beneficiaries, including other Free State departments, in the form of cattle.

The reply detailed that the department donated hundreds of thousands of rands' worth of cattle since 2009. The cattle were donated for purposes including catering at funeral services of needy families, provincial government officials and those associated with them.

In one instance, a cow was donated for the funeral of a government worker who is still alive.

Bulwane's reply to a question from member of provincial legislature for the Democratic Alliance Roy Jankielsohn. The provincial department donated a grand total of 178 head of cattle in one decade, valued at R815 200.

Among other things, the department donated 26 cattle to the Virginia Commonage for breeding in 2009, one to the Department of Health for catering as part of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s contribution to cost containment.

Also rather curious, the MEC's reply stated that one cow, worth R4 800, was donated to the Mapena family for the "funeral of the late Lucy Mapena; Member of Provincial Legislature". Mapena is still living, and serves as deputy speaker of the provincial legislature.

Open for abuse

The Free State department said the donations were above board and cattle donated were part of surplus livestock, meaning they could not constitute a waste.

In a statement regarding the cattle donations, Jankielsohn said the province’s funerals and church activities combined with a lack of a clear criteria or guidelines for cattle donations meant that the system was open for abuse.

"Livestock in the possession of the Department of Agriculture are not meant for welfare or cost-cutting purposes during catering at events for Premiers and other government departments.

"The Department is not a welfare institution. Cattle in their possession should be used for research and other agricultural activities that benefit the agricultural sector," said Jankielsohn.

Jankielsohn said in the statement that the DA would probe the matter "to determine the legality of the alienation of government".

Mbweu Zimasa of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development disputed the DA's suggestions that the donations were being abused, saying the donation of livestock was above board.

"The donations of cattle to poor households is part of the department's act of social responsibility towards communities. Farmers on commonages also receive such donations from the department to advance farming and contribute to the economy of the province," said Zimasa.

Zimasa said the donations to sector departments were made to avoid unnecessary costs on catering during official functions.

"It's important to note that the animals donated are from surplus animals at the Glen farm and are not required for research and training purposes," Zimasa said.

Zimasa explained that Mapena was listed as deceased in the MEC's reply to the legislature in error, but did not clarify why a cow was donated to the MPL. 

free state  |  cattle  |  donations  |  livestock


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