A leading young farmer, Nono Sekhoto-Iga, says she hopes that the sixth democratic parliament chosen in the election will create policies that not only force established agribusinesses to support black economic empowerment, but also fast-track the development of black farmers and agripreneurs.
The GrowthShoot CEO and Chairperson of AFASA Youth has joined a chorus of agri-leaders who says that the general elections held last week left them with a sense of hope for Mzansi’s future. They are now, however, eagerly awaiting the announcement of Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa’s new cabinet, which could possibly include the axing of Senzeni Zokwana as the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Farmers are reliant on government to boost agricultural growth, with Sekhoto-Iga adding that the agri-sector has the potential to make a greater contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Channeling funds and supporting the Land Bank to be in a better position to fund small-scale and new entrants in the industry [is crucial]. – Nono Sekhoto-Iga
“The sector players need to find more ways to collaborate with each other for the benefit of all participants,” she says.
Meanwhile Dr Oscar van Heerden, a political analyst who serves as, amongst others, a trustee of the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation, says that the agricultural sector should brace themselves for a constitutional amendment following the election results of specifically the ANC and the EFF. The ANC has secured 57.5% of the national vote and the EFF 10.8%, giving them more than the required 65% to change the Constitution to make allowance for land expropriation without compensation.
Van Heerden believes a coalition between the ANC and EFF to drive this is a given, although the parties differ on exactly how land could be expropriated without compensation.
“The how is what the ANC will have to discuss. The EFF, of course, has their own notions about how it will play out, but none of this is set in stone.”
He believes, however, that South Africa’s democracy is strong and healthy. “The fact that we had our sixth general elections that was free and fair, without lots of unhappiness with the majority of the political parties accepting the outcome of the elections, speaks volumes in terms of the maturity of our democracy.”
Looking to the future, Van Heerden says Ramaphosa has a lot of tough decisions to make in the next few weeks and not everyone will agree with him. He’s also hopeful that the new dispensation will re-evaluate the earlier closure of agricultural colleges. “If we want to see the sector improving we need to reopen these colleges to build skills and to train black farmers in the country.”
They also thanked the 25 million people who exercised their right to vote. “We work closely with parliament to inform our national representatives on various issues affecting agriculture as a whole,” says Omri van Zyl, Agri SA’s Executive Director.
The organisation’s Head of Communication and Corporate Affairs, Pietman Roos, says, “A lot is made about election predictions, but the real work begins now, and it entails a coherent strategy to inform individual decision makers while communicating policy concepts to the public.”