Commercial agriculture welcomes appointment of new land reform director general

Cabinet has approved the appointment of Mdu Shabane as director general for the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.

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Shabane has been with the department for more than a decade, and is known for his willingness to communicate with organised agriculture and take on corruption.He was instrumental in getting the Besters/Quedusizi Land Reform Project (near Ladysmith in KZN) off the ground for government, said Roland Henderson, one of the architects of the Besters project.

“At the time he was provincial director of land affairs, but he was moving through the department fast and was soon not as hands-on as in the beginning. We missed him when he left,” said Henderson. Agri SA deputy president Dr Theo de Jager said the department couldn’t have made a better choice, as Shabane is experienced and approachable. “He doesn’t run away from problems, he takes them head on,” added Dr De Jager.

“His biggest challenge will be to clean up the department. He knows there’s a lot of corruption and nepotism. We accept that he’s up against the internal politics of the department, but he has to do something about this if he’s to be successful.”Two days after Shabane’s appointment, President Zuma axed seven ministers.

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Of relevance to agriculture is the removal of water and environmental affairs minister Bulelwa Sonjica. She’s been replaced by former social development minister Edna Molelwa. Meanwhile, rural development deputy minister Dr Joe Phaala found himself transferred to arts and culture. His replacement is Thembelani “Thulas” Nxesi.