Durban - Municipal officials from the Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma local municipality in western KwaZulu-Natal say there is plenty of land available for farming cannabis in order to help grow the economy and create jobs for rural residents.
Both the mayor of the municipality, Sindi Msomi, and the municipal manager, Nkoyiyezwe Vezi, said the area had an abundance of land, ripe for the cultivation of cannabis in hopes of developing the local economy.
The pair of officials were speaking during a tourism and investment summit at the Premier Sani Pass Resort in the Drakensberg mountain range on Tuesday.
The conference was aimed at attracting more foreign and local investment into the tourism sector, particularly around the NDZ municipality, which is primarily made up of rural areas.
“The legalisation of hemp provides opportunities for rural communities to explore the trade, but I think we need to legislate on the issue of licensing so that users and traders can have proper licence to grow marijuana.
“There’s vast tracts of land that are lying unused in tribal areas that can be best utilised for the growing of marijuana. It is going to grow the economy in this area. Marijuana grows very good in this area,” Vezi told IOL during an interview outside the summit.
Municipal manager of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma local municipality Nkosiyezwe Vezi says there is enough land in the area to farm cannabis in hopes of boosting the local economy. But Vezi says legislation needs to be put in first place. pic.twitter.com/32xpbNB4Jd— Jehran Daniel (@JehranD) March 29, 2022
The municipal manager said the right legislation surrounding cannabis laws could enable small time sellers from the rural areas to earn an income through trading marijuana but maintained that laws around it need to be firmly established.
“I think the establishment of the KZN cannabis committee is going to come up with all those recommendations to say how are we going to regulate it and handle it. How are we going to make sure even the small guys benefit from it,” Vezi added.
Msomi said that most people in the area have been selling cannabis illegally. Hence, legalising it will enable those people to take part in the formal economy.
The newly elected mayor, however, who has been in her post for around four months, said the cannabis industry is fairly new to the government and would be incorrect to say the government is taking a long time to regulate the industry.
“There is plenty of land in rural areas. Some of the people have neighbours who are very far apart, so they have enough land to grow. They can also try to work together to produce more cannabis that is going to be communally collected, then split the money,” Msomi said.
Mayor of the Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma local municipality, Sindi Msomi, says that the state is working towards legalising the cannabis industry but needs time because it is a new industry which that state has not tackled before. #sanipass #tkzn #ndz pic.twitter.com/IpJLPnSBXH— Jehran Daniel (@JehranD) March 29, 2022
At the start of the month, KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala approved the provincial cannabis committee, a body tasked with developing the sector.
“The potential for the cannabis/hemp industry is estimated at over R28 billion in South Africa with a potential to create between 10 000 and 20 000 job opportunities across the entire value chain. The establishment of the cannabis industry will lead to the diversification of the economy, create jobs, increase economic growth and contribute to poverty alleviation,” Zikalala said.
Independent Media has contacted the provincial government to find who sits on the council and is awaiting a response.