While opposition parties continue to grill President Cyril Ramaphosa about his recent State of the Nation Address, the agriculture sector has vowed to hold him accountable to the promises made.
Free State Agriculture (FSA) says the sector can not only help the state to implement joint action plans, but also fulfil a watchdog duty. This, after Ramaphosa emphasised that “an active and involved civil society is crucial for a capable state and for development.”
FSA president Francois Wilken says this is where his organisation “will focus on empowering our grassroots structures – the agricultural associations – to participate actively. The agricultural sector can establish the right structures for ground level implementation of joint plans and action.”
The FSA remains, however, concerned about planned legislative changes around land expropriation, stating that “Expropriation and economic growth do not go hand in hand”.
“If the government is serious about getting the economy going, they should delete certain provisions of the expropriation bill. The bill, in its current format, contains elements that Free State Agriculture does not support and that can make investors unsure about investments in South Africa that involve any property – even intellectual property,” says Wilken.
Accelerated job creation
The FSA boss’s comments follow after Ramaphosa acknowledged that a successful and growing economy was free-market driven and that is what is needed to create the most jobs. The president also emphasised that the government’s role was to create the empowering environment in which the private sector – small as well as large-scale businesses – could grow together.
Wilken says FSA is pleased that agriculture issues were addressed by Ramaphosa. This includes uncertainty and unnecessary disruption caused by an unreliable power supply network and the dire state of Mzansi’s rural road infrastructure. Bottlenecks at the country’s ports that impedes high value exports and perishable agricultural products are also top of mind.
“For too long, the debate on expropriation without compensation has deterred investors and has been used as a smokescreen for the looting of our national infrastructure! Whether the president is going to bring the culprits to book as promised, time will tell,” says Wilken.
“The president reiterated that we, as a developing state, will continue to drive land reform and transformation. This means that the state will centrally make the plans and try to execute them. The various master plans have been mentioned and the agricultural master plan, signed last year, is being implemented this year.
“To carry out successful development actions, a close and competent state order is needed, which requires the procurement and support of the grassroots society.”
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