JOHANNESBURG 21 June 2017 - Economists say agriculture is the beacon of hope for South Africa's declining economy. ?
PRETORIA - The State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday night was a frank admission of the problems negatively impacting on the morale of South Africans and the drivers which are critical to take the nation forward, Agri SA said.
“Agri SA therefore wholeheartedly supports the economic solutions outlined in the [SONA] to turn the country around and to create a future of hope, social cohesion, and prosperity for all,” Agri SA president Dan Kriek said on Saturday.
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 welcomed the announcement to clamp down on corruption in state departments as well as the private sector, he said.
"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 said.
The establishment of local economic zones, the review of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and state-owned enterprises (SoEs), the 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 pledged its co-operation to ensure the achievement of all the outcomes related to these plans.
IN QUOTES: promises Ramaphosa made in his SONA speech
Prioritising the economy and the role of entrepreneurs was also a key feature of the address. Agri SA therefore called 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 was to be welcomed, as well as the plans outlined to develop 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, while 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," Kriek siad.
Agri SA appealed 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.