Home News 'Mr Ramaphosa, it's time to act on history of promises'

‘Mr Ramaphosa, it’s time to act on history of promises’

"With effective implementation of the economic recovery plan, agriculture will pave the way for economic recovery and job creation" - Agri SA


While an economist warns that Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic turnaround plan “dripped like honey on the ear canals of desperate South Africans”, the agricultural sector has cautiously welcomed it.

The plan to revive the covid-19 battered economy was presented in Parliament as the country struggles to find its feet after two million lost jobs and a steep slump in GDP as covid-19 lockdown measures took its toll on the economy.

Christo van der Rheede, the executive director at Agri SA. Photo: Supplied

Ramaphosa’s focus on localisation and industrialisation is especially important for the agricultural sector, says Agri SA executive director Christo van der Rheede.

“We have been arguing for localisation for quite some time now. We need to create conducive circumstances for localisation to take root in the country. We support industrialisation, but there is an urgency to bring the cost of doing business down.”

Van der Rheede adds, however, “We must be positive, but now is the time for action and genuine, real delivery.”

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This is a sentiment echoed by  prof. Raymond Parsons, an economist at North West University who believes Ramaphosa’s plan “dripped like honey on the ear canals of desperate South Africans,” but there was “insufficient emphasis on implementation and deliverables”.

‘State capacity hinders growth’

Parsons says the promise of an “effective and efficient state with greater coordination and integration between national, provincial and local government,” is not nearly enough to answer the burning question: “How?”

The plan should have stressed how policies and projects were going to be handled to guarantee accountability, Parsons agues. “The biggest risk is still tremendous problems with state capacity.”

Agricultural leaders say while Ramaphosa’s strong focus on an inclusive approach to resuscitate the economy by involving youth and women is welcome, the time for planning has long passed. Now is the time for action.

Dr John Purchase, Agbiz CEO
Dr John Purchase, the CEO of Agbiz. Photo: Supplied

Agbiz chief executive Dr John Purchase adds that the outlines of Ramaphosa’s plan are positive, but now is also the time to act on a history of promises.

“Now we just have to get the nuts and bolts of the plan to make sure that it is implemented. In South Africa we are very good at making plans, but not very good at implementing plans. he implementation part becomes critical now.”

Parsons further stresses, “The plan’s ultimate impact on SA’s economic performance also depends on how the medium-term budget policy statement on 28 October will finance South Africa’s ability to break out of its ‘low growth trap’ without falling into a ‘debt trap’.”

Furthermore, TLU SA says it also took note of the president’s “set of promises”. “It all sounds very nice, but the root of the problem is still the policy environment which drove expertise from the country,” says its president, Henry Geldenhuys.

ALSO READ: Agriculture can reset economy for growth

He adds that “the ability to deliver all but evaporated and the ability to do service delivery is gone too. We want to see that the four legs of the recovery plan make a difference in practice. The economy won’t be regulated by political announcements of who should do what. Individuals must take responsibility of what the economy claims.”

“with effective implementation of the recovery plan, agriculture will pave the way for economic recovery and job creation.” – NICOL JANSEN, AGRI SA

Agriculture to the rescue

The agricultural sector should be at the centre of the country’s economic recovery post-covid-19, says Nicol Jansen, chair of Agri SA’s centre of excellence on economics and trade.

Nicol Jansen, Agri SA’s chairman for economics and trade centre of excellence. Photo: Supplied
Nicol Jansen, Agri SA’s chairman for economics and trade centre of excellence. Photo: Supplied

He believes farmer development, rural safety and market access must be prioritised as key drivers for Ramaphosa’s objectives. “In as much as the plan highlights key challenges faced by the industry, the plan is still very thin on key details as to how these will be addressed and the timelines thereof.

“These include issues related to the availability of cheap capital, land rights, tenure security, water rights and corruption that must be addressed as a matter of urgency,” says Jansen.

Existing expertise and knowledge in the sector are crucial to its growth. Jansen adds that the president’s focus should capacitate state-owned entities including the Land Bank, SARS and Eskom.

“The opportunity presents itself to unlock the untapped potential within the agricultural sector. Climate conditions are favourable and with effective and expeditious implementation of the recovery plan in partnership with the private sector, agriculture will pave the way for economic recovery and job creation.”

ALSO READ: Release of state land ‘could fall flat on delivery’

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Noluthando Ngcakani
Noluthando Ngcakani
With roots in the Northern Cape, this Kimberley Diamond has had a passion for telling human interest stories since she could speak her first words. A foodie by heart, she began her journalistic career as an intern at the SABC where she discovered her love for telling agricultural, community and nature related stories. Not a stranger to a challenge Ngcakani will go above and beyond to tell your truth.


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