It has been reported that certain ‘unavoidable’ conditions have forced President Cyril Ramaphosa to retrench more than half of his farmworkers, in Mpumalanga.
How many farms does President Ramaphosa own?
Ramaphosa, as far as we know it, only has one farm in Ntaba Nyoni, Mpumalanga. His passion for cattle breeding, according to his book, Cattle of the Ages, came unexpectedly during a visit to Uganda in 2004.
He fell in love with the Ankole, a modern American breed of domestic cattle that derives from the Sanga breeds of central Africa.
Poor disease control measures in Uganda, at the time, meant that Ramaphosa could not import he Ankole to his home country. However, the president — as always — had a way around this.
He purchased 43 cows from Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s president, and sent them off to Kenya where they were processed for artificial insemination.
The embryos that were removed from the Ankole were cleared to enter South Africa. They were then transferred into a cattle of cows which had to be quarantined for two months before they were cleared for breeding at his Ntaba Nyoni farm.
Ugandans who are familiar with this story refer to Ramaphosa’s Ankole as the cattle of kings.
Why did the president retrench his staff?
However, the president’s pride has been under threat with the outbreak of the Foot and Mouth disease that has spread from agricultural parts of Limpopo to Mpumalanga.
According to a recent report, fears of the disease have had an adverse impact on trading and because of this, the publication has alleged that Ramaphosa was forced to retrench half of his farmworkers.
The report further alleges that in October, a month after he had acquired a Boran stud for R500 000 at a Hurwitz auction, Ramaphosa drove down to his farm to lay off 22 of his 46 full-time employees.
One of the farmworkers, a man identified as Aaron Mokoena, told the publication that he has been left with nothing to bring home to his family, who live in destitute conditions.
“You know the President came himself, he told us all that we are going to be retrenched and that was a shock as names were called. For me it’s hard because there are 11 people who depend on me, it was very hard to go home and tell my family that I’m jobless,” he said.
The only confirmation of this, so far, has come from a man identified as the farm’s Operations Manager, Ben Molotsi. He apparently told the publication that the Foot and Mouth outbreak was the main reason behind the decision.
“We know it’s not nice to retrench people, but this was a business decision… Actually the employees themselves wrote their names and submitted that it’s better we retrench because when the business is doing good and back on track they will get first preference as former employees whom we have invested a lot experience on them,” he said.