Foot-and-mouth disease and “bad trading conditions” have forced President Cyril Ramaphosa to retrench 22 of his 46 workers at his farm in Mpumalanga, Sowetan reports.
Ramaphosa reportedly travelled to the Ntabanyoni farm, located in Badplaas, to personally deliver the sad news on 25 October.
The President breeds the rare Ankole cattle, which he imported from Uganda, at the farm. The breed is well known for its iconic long horns.
‘President is too big to fail’
Ben Molotsi, the farm’s operations manager, confirmed the retrenchments, saying the farm was staring at liquidation if it didn’t retrench.
He said the business had paid the retrenched workers their 13th cheques, up to 18-days severance pay, and days-off pays. It will also pay half of their fees for skills development courses, he added.
The affected workers expressed disappointment at losing their jobs. One of them, Mhlonipheni Nkosi, urged Ramaphosa to reconsider.
“We understand the situation, but you know the President is [too] big to fail. I wish he can find ways to give us back our jobs because we are young and we need to feed our families,” he said.
Foot-and-mouth disease case
Earlier in November, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development confirmed that a case of the foot-and-mouth disease had been detected in a cattle herd in Molemole, Limpopo.
The Department said in a statement, “Trace back and trace forward thus far linked infected animals to an auction facility in Limpopo Province and it has been confirmed that at least five commercial facilities have been affected as a result.”
It further stated that all the affected facilities had been quarantined as a precautionary measure.
The Department also discouraged “all gatherings of animals from more than one source,” including livestock auctions, until the extent of the outbreak is determined.
In a statement earlier this week, agricultural organisation Agri SA said the “potential threat of the disease spreading to other provinces” could have serious implications for South Africa.
It said the nationwide ban on livestock auctions should only be temporary measure because of its adverse impact on the economy.