Here they are – the nine provincial agriculture MECs, five of them female, who will assist the newly-appointed Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza. Together they will drive the National Development Plan’s ambitious goal of creating close to one million jobs through agriculture by 2030.
The provincial agriculture MECs now face the daunting task of implementing government’s strategic goals. Perhaps more than ever before, Didiza will rely on the provincial MECs to grow agriculture’s contribution to national economic growth, especially given her greater responsibility as part of Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa’s smaller cabinet.
Didiza will now be overseeing agriculture, land reform and rural development after Ramaphosa trimmed his cabinet to 28 ministers. Former President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet consisted of 36 ministers. Didizi will be assisted by two deputy ministers, Sdumo Dlamini and Mcebisi Skwatsha. She is no stranger to agriculture, though, having been the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs from 1999 to 2006.
Besides the NDP’s emphasis on the importance of stimulating commercial agriculture to drive job creation, the provincial agriculture MEC’s will also have to drive pressing agricultural issues, including land reform, infrastructure collapse in rural areas and safety on farms.
The newly-appointed MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development in the North West, Desbo Mohono, is quite familiar with her new position.
She held the same post in 2012 and is said to have created opportunities for project owners in agriculture to market their products.
During her time as agriculture MEC, Mohono also established a vegetable market for Taung and Mahikeng where farmers could sell their vegetables, eggs, food and sheep. Another earlier win was a partnership between the department and the IDC to empower farmers to acquire Nguni cattle.
The Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, brings more than 10 years’ experience of provincial government. He is an advocate of fiscal discipline in all spheres of government, and champions the idea that public servants should create public value.
Meyer holds a PhD in Public Administration from Stellenbosch University, as well as a number of international certificates and diplomas. Meyer is a former Minister of Finance in the Western Cape government. He also has the political responsibility for the province’s International Relations Portfolio. Earlier in his career he was a Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Local Governance at the University of Stellenbosch.
Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi is known for her commitment towards the economic and social development of KwaZulu-Natal. As the MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, her instincts and vision to see talent from the grassroots level will surely aid the sector. She is also known for her passion for local government, having served many structures that ushered in the local sphere of government shortly after the democratic dispensation. Sithole-Moloi is an advocate for the development of young talent.
Limpopo’s MEC for Agriculture, Nandi Ndalane, rose from a rural, unemployed matriculant in the Vhembe district to serving on Premier Stan Mathabatha’s cabinet. A young Ndalane joined Akanani, a progressive education and community development NPO. This is also where her political career was born and she soon found herself rubbing shoulders with political luminaries, including Rashaka Ratshitanga, Mothupi Pharepahare, Thabo Makunyane and Jerry Ndou. The many years at Akanani and involvement in the day-to-day struggles of her community launched a political career that landed her first MEC job in 2014.
The province’s new MEC for Economic Development, Agriculture and Environment, Dr Kgosientso Ramokgopa, is known as the former mayor of Tshwane. He acquired a number of qualifications, including a BSc in Civil Engineering and a Master’s in Public Administration and Business Leadership. Ramokgopa offers years of service experience to Mzansi’s economic hub. Other accolades include winning the Black Business Quarterly’s Young Business Achiever of the Year Award in 2010.
Dr Vusumuzi Shongwe has retained his position as MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development in Mpumalanga’s Provincial Legislature. He previously also served as the province’s MEC for Community Safety in which he aimed to strengthen the criminal justice system, make the police service more professional and to involve the community in safety related matters.
Earlier in his political career, Shongwe previously served in various KwaZulu-Natal government structures, including a stint as Chief Director in the Office of the Premier.
Nomandla Bloem now assumes responsibility of both the Agriculture and Land Reform as well as the Environmental Affairs and Conservation portfolios.
The newly-appointed premier Zamani Saul reduced his cabinet and merged some departments. Bloem is an experienced administrator, and well known in the Northern Cape. She now has to juggle her time to champion, amongst others, land transformation, food security and sustainable rural development.
Nomakhosazana Meth was appointed as the MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform in the cabinet of Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane.
Meth is the former mayor of the OR Tambo District Municipality consisting of the King Sabata Dalidyebo, Nyandeni, Ngquza Hill, Mhlonthlo and Port St Johns local municipalities. She now has to use agriculture as a driver of change and development – a direct instruction to the province from Ramaphosa in December 2018 when he attended the launch of a multi-million rand agriculture project in Ncise in Mthatha.