The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on the KZN MEC for agriculture, Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi, to take action as politically driven uncertainty keeps confidence low in the province’s agricultural sector.
The DA’s KZN MPL, Chris Pappas, said in a statement on Tuesday that the party had called on the provincial government, in particular, Sithole-Moloi, to work towards stabilising both the economic and political climate in the province in order to boost confidence in the agricultural sector.
“The appeal comes after the recent release of the first quarter statistics by AgriBiz, which indicate that political and policy uncertainty, along with socio-economic instability, are still major contributing factors in keeping KZN’s agribusiness sector performing well below its potential,” Pappas said.
Pappas said the DA remains concerned about the negative impact that political instability within the ANC is having on the province’s agricultural sector.
“While other influencing factors, such as poor weather conditions, have resulted in low confidence, reversing politically driven uncertainty will help to attract investment and boost job creation in the sector,” Pappas said.
The DA MPL added that the agricultural sector had a vital role to play in curbing unemployment and ensuring future food security in KZN.
“Yet the average employment rate in KZN’s agricultural sector dropped from 11.9% in 2006 to 5.1% in 2017. The sector’s contribution to KZN’s GDP also declined from 4.1% to 4% between 2010 and 2018,” Pappas said.
The DA has called on KZN’s political leadership and Sithole-Moloi to take immediate action on the following issues in order to reverse this negative trend:
- Officially scrap talks about land expropriation without compensation, particularly issues relating to the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution which will impact on property rights
- Re-ignite plans to increase land under irrigation in line with the National Development Plan 2030
- Increase funding for research into mitigating the effects of climate change as well as investing in a response mechanism
- Make funding available for the agricultural sector at more affordable prices including access to finance for small-scale farmers and;
- Stabilise the labour market by engaging with unions and labour forums including an opt-out option for the national minimum wage.
“The DA firmly believes that by implementing and lobbying in favour of these suggestions, MEC Sithole-Moloi can begin to turn this sector around and start to see a decline in inequality and poverty. Above all, job creation and food security must be at the forefront of all planning and [targets set] by the new MEC and her department.
“The DA in KZN will continue to robustly lobby for policy and structural reform that creates public value, ensures accountability, and promotes investor confidence in the agriculture sector in our province.”
(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)