Opinion / 6 November 2019, 1:30pm / Readers' Forum
CAPE TOWN – One of the biggest problems confronting our fledgling democracy is that our leaders understand the importance of job-creation, and in an effort to get re-elected have encouraged underlings to hire employees who are not really needed.
This has resulted in companies like electricity-supplier Eskom being unable to increase its capacity due (at least partly) to the R32.35 billion it spends annually on its 48 000 employees (which apparently is at least 16 000 too many).
In addition, this huge wage bill impacts negatively on Eskom’s ability to repair its existing infrastructure, which opens the door to the frightening possibility that Eskom’s capacity could shrink significantly in the not-too-distant future. Unfortunately there is perilously little that the government can do, for the unions have made it abundantly clear that they will bring the country to a standstill if the government decides to retrench these unneeded employees.
Consequently, our government would like us to believe that the wage bill at organisations like Eskom, SAA and SABC is only a small part of the problem. That the real problem is corruption, a lack of competition and the inability to find the right chief executive etcetera, which is a bit like a surgeon saying there is little point in amputating a gangrenous toe because the patient has cancer and might die anyway. President Cyril Ramaphosa agonises over taking a decision he would not hesitate to take if one of his own companies was at stake. One can only hope that he will soon find the courage to do what must be done.
AVMP is denting scourge of unemployment
DUDUZA – It is undeniably true that South Africa should be in support of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to facilitate economic reform in our country.
During the opening of the Presidential Jobs Summit, the President said unemployment has a devastating effect on families and communities, eroding people's dignity and contributing to social problems like poor health, poor education outcomes, substance abuse and crime.
He said the structure of the economy is highly concentrated and largely untransformed. Concomitant to those sentiments, Minister Thoko Didiza also concurred with the president when she tabled her 2019/2020 budget vote speech in Parliament.
She said South Africa needed to start a genuine conversation with farmers and big companies on finding ways to unblock the agricultural sector, thereby creating more opportunities for the historically disadvantaged groups.
Now, in fighting poverty, unemployment and inequality, the Gauteng Provincial Shared Service Centre of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development is throwing its weight in denting the scourge of unemployment.
Recently, the shared service centre employed 120 contract workers through the Animal and Veld Management Programme (AVMP) in Rust De Winter, Schoongezicht and in Bantu Bonke in Midvaal.
The AVMP programme aims to address unsustainable use of land by implementing interventions like soil rehabilitation, decongesting the space and re-greening the environment.
I want to therefore applaud the department for using its land reform programmes to not only improve land use in rural areas, but also to create opportunities for the unemployed.
The R3.5 billion pledge by multibillionaire Patrice Motsepe towards land reform programme is another good example of what the government and business can do in making a concerted effort to address the socio-economic challenges faced by our country.
Motsepe’s fund for black farmers welcomed
PRETORIA – The public-private partnerships between the government and the private sector always make for an excellent blueprint for sound social partnerships that, if managed properly, can yield good spin-offs.
The recent announcement by African Rainbow Minerals chairperson, Patrice Motsepe, that he is planning to set up a multibillion-rand fund to benefit emerging black farmers is a great initiative that will contribute to already available government efforts that assist smallholder farmers in the country.
The fund will focus on assisting those in agriculture, agribusiness and related industries.
If this comes to fruition, the fund and government intervention will act as a springboard for a successful land reform and agrarian transformation.
In his own words Motsepe mentioned that the fund will enable black farmers to be part of a sustainable, commercially viable and profitable enterprises which will build a brighter future for all the farmers and also stimulate the economy.
The fund by Motsepe will be in tune with the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development’s sentiments during her budget speech in July, where she said that agriculture had the potential to contribute to the country's economic growth.
From her budget speech, Minister Thoko Didiza announced that for the 2019/20 financial year the department would allocate a budget of more than R1.5 billion to provincial departments of agriculture to ensure that smallholder farmers and black commercial farmers, who are in distress, are supported with production inputs, mechanisation, on- and off-farm infrastructure, training and mentorship, market information, extension and advisory services, among others.
The minister further stated that as a country we need to envision an inclusive agricultural sector by working together to deliberately increase the market share of black producers in the various sectors of the agricultural economy.
With this in mind, the government needs to make efforts to attract young people and women to seize job opportunities that will result from the agricultural value chain; thereby denting the scourge of unemployment.
Themba Mzula Hleko
Are there ongoing meat safety inspections in SA?
MORNINGSIDE – A meat and poultry wholesaler and importer was recently fined more than R1 million for trading in “unsafe” meat. Surprisingly this hardly made local news.
There was no confirmation of the source of this product, whether locally produced or imported, and if imported, what was the country of origin?
Two years ago, South Africa tragically suffered more than 200 deaths due to a listeria virus that had emanated from local food processing facilities.
Is our meat and poultry, locally produced, manufactured or grown, as well as imported products, adequately tested for human and animal consumption?
South Africa imports 800 000 tons of meat and poultry annually. That's metric tons not kilograms. The question arises: What percentage of this is tested?
I have been told that testing is “risk based”. What does this mean? The same applies to local meat and poultry. Surely there should be more transparency here.
Does South Africa have the resources and trained expertise to conduct ongoing meat safety inspections and tests, including the relevant facilities?
Are full inspections of all contents in every container arriving at our ports mandatory? If not, why not? To what extent are we at risk?