Storm brews over tea project

THE Tshivhase Development Trust is embroiled in a bitter war with the Limpopo department of agriculture over the packaging and launching of Midi tea.

THE Tshivhase Development Trust is embroiled in a bitter war with the Limpopo department of agriculture over the packaging and launching of Midi tea.

The tea is produced on the Mukumbani tea estate.

The war comes after the trust claimed the department's head, Bigman Maloa, was marginalising the community and preventing it from benefiting from the project.

Trust members also accused Maloa of undermining their leader, Kennedy Midiyavhathu Tshivhase.

Tshivhase was "undermined" after he said the land belonged to him and no one was supposed to interfere with the project .

The plantation was rehabilitated by the department of agriculture after it was deserted by Sapekoe Tea Producer.

Tshivhase said they were un-happy about the management of the plantation by Maloa and want the department to replace him.

According to the trust Maloa has been visiting the plantation with strangers without informing those who own it.

The trust also accused Maloa of failing to give them an annual report on the financial state of the company.

Tshivhase said they felt dishonoured when something was done on their land without their being consulted first.

"Recently we called Maloa to tell us about the day-to-day running of the plantation but instead he told us that he owed us no explanation," Tshivhase said.

According to Tshivhase, Maloa has never told them about the packaging and launch of the tea.

He said he was surprised to find that there were plans to launch the tea this month without his knowledge.

Sowetan learnt that the tea would be sold under the brand "Midi", a name derived from a Tshivhase king named Midiyavhathu.

"We wanted our people to learn skills from the company that will be packaging and processing," Tshivhase said.

Limpopo department of agriculture spokesperson Thembi Makhuvele said talks were under way with the Tshivhase clan to solve the impasse.

Maloa declined to comment. "We do not operate our progress through the media," he said.

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