Agri SA sceptical about R1 billion drought relief ‘donation’

Agri SA has iterated that the bona fides of an organisation promising to donate R1 billion in drought relief to SA farmers be established before any details can be discussed.

On 27 June 2016, the ‘Global Association of Billionaires and Millionaires (GABM)’ published a letter on LinkedIn addressed to agriculture minister, Senzeni Zokwana, and Agri SA’s deputy executive director, Christo van der Rheede, stating that the company would provide a “capital grant” of US$70 million (R1 billion) for drought relief to SA farmers.

Van der Rheede told Farmer’s Weekly that Agri SA was surprised to learn that the letter had been published on various social media before its authenticity could be established.

“Founding member and former GABM President, Mark Paulsmeier, needs to come to us [Agri SA] directly. We have a team of lawyers and auditors who will facilitate the process of negotiations. We need proof before we can make announcements to farmers and we also need to be careful of running into a scam,” he said.

Paulsmeier confirmed to Farmer’s Weekly that Agri SA had requested a meeting with him, but he had been unable to honour the time and date. He had therefore requested to meet an Agri SA representative at his (Paulsmeier’s) residence in Hoedspruit on 28 June 2016. Alternatively, he suggested that the parties continue with e-mail communication until Agri SA accepted the GABM grant conditions.

Farmer’s Weekly has learned that the Hoedspruit meeting also did not take place.

Van der Rheede said that any organisation wishing to contribute to the drought relief fund was welcome to contact Agri SA directly.

“The fund is managed in a responsible manner and transparent records are kept of all expenses,” he said.

According to Paulsmeier, if the grant conditions were accepted by Agri SA, the funds would be ready for distribution by the end of July 2016.

Click on the link to read the full GABM press release published on LinkedIn.