Service delivery in Mzansi is notoriously poor, with the Auditor-General’s last report on local municipalities describing the overall state of local governance as regressive and lacking accountability. Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist at Agbiz, says the challenge of poor service delivery is one of the main issues affecting farmers.
Corruption, maladministration and a lack of accountability are at the root of poor service delivery in the country. Coupled with increasingly poor infrastructure, Sihlobo explains, the burden is felt by farmers across South Africa.
“There is a commonality in challenges that farmers and agribusinesses raise, regardless of the provinces or municipalities,” he says. “The challenge of poor service delivery by municipalities and inadequately maintained roads are amongst some of the core issues in every discussion.”
Sihlobo says that farmers are increasingly having to spend money on services that fall in the public sphere, limiting their ability to invest in and grow their own businesses. He adds that the relevant sections of government need to make service delivery and the building of infrastructure a priority.
Urgent priority, unexpected opportunity
“These hindrances hamper the profitability of many businesses, and that resources that could be invested in growth-enhancing activities within farming entities and agribusiness are now increasingly diverted to public services.
“We will continue to raise these issues for prioritisation by the government through our interactions with the [agriculture department] and other departments such as the department of public works and infrastructure.”
Agriculture depends on the state of public infrastructure, Sihlobo adds, and says that it’s therefore something government needs to give urgent attention to.
He adds that the recent destruction in KwaZulu-Natal presents an unexpected opportunity.
“The infrastructure rebuilding process of KwaZulu-Natal after the flooding should be broadened to be a nationwide effort as all provinces face varying degrees of network infrastructure deterioration. Therefore, network industries across the country should be a priority.”
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