Persverklaring – AgriSA

The State of the Nation Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa was a frank admission of the challenges negatively impacting on the morale of South Africans and the drivers which are critical to take our nation forward. “Agri SA therefore wholeheartedly supports the economic solutions outlined in the State of the Nation Address to turn the country around and to create a future of hope, social cohesion and prosperity for all” Dan Kriek, President of Agri SA stated. Significant emphasis was placed on the need to create jobs, advancing transformation and establishing an ethical, caring and service orientated state fraternity at municipal level, provincial and national level. Agri SA also welcomes the announcement to clamp down on corruption in state departments as well as the private sector. We enthusiastically applaud the practical steps outlined to ensure policy certainty, reduce government departments, grow the local economy, attract investments, boost the manufacturing sector and grow the small business environment, Kriek added. The establishment of local economic zones, the review of SARS and state-owned enterprises, appointment of the right people as well as implementing a wide range of social and economic interventions in the small business sector, agriculture, mining, tourism and other sectors are also welcomed. Agri SA pledges its co-operation to ensure the achievement of all the outcomes related to these plans. Prioritising the economy and the role of entrepreneurs was also a key feature of the address. Agri SA therefore calls on the President to seize the opportunity and exploit the goodwill on offer from local and international investors. The emphasis on promoting partnerships between business, labour, government and the public is to be welcomed as well as the plans outlined to develop our young people. However, such a bold vision cannot be tarnished by excluding anyone or a particular community. The plans announced by the President should be inclusive of all the people of South Africa regardless of race, colour, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, age or physical constraints. The National Constitution demands of all of us to build a united and non-racial society and to nurture the talent and honour the contribution of all our people. South Africa remains a highly divided nation and it is through honouring the dignity of every South African, inclusivity and mutual respect that this divide can be bridged. However, Agri SA is highly concerned with the contradictory statements related to acknowledging agriculture as the biggest contributor the past quarters in terms of economic growth and job creation, whilst in the same breath calling for the expropriation of land without compensation. Not only does it subvert the letter and spirit of Section 25 of our National Constitution, but it also entrenches the perception that the governing party has no regard for the founding principles of our newly founded democracy. The question also remains: From whom will land be expropriated and to whom will it be given? Such populist statements will do more harm than good and contradicts the underlying theme of the State of the Nation Address to grow the sector through investment to unleash its fullest potential. Agri SA therefore appeals to the President to rather desist from such populist rhetoric and to engage with the commercial agricultural industry to find amicable solutions to the land question. Agri SA is developing its own land transformation plan that will be commercially driven and will aim to increase national production significantly without having to change the constitution – Omri van Zyl (Executive Director) added. “Undermining the notion of private ownership and still expecting the private sector to enthusiastically embrace partnerships between themselves and the state will not happen” van Zyl added. It is through win-win partnerships and policy certainty that the vision of a safe, productive and content South African society can be realised.