Speech notes by Veliswa Mvenya MPL on consideration of report of Portfolio Committee on Rural Development & Agrarian Reform on oversight visits to projects funded by the department, 14 March 2018

  • All development projects should translate to job creation and economic development.

Madam Speaker, Honourable Premier, colleagues and guests, I greet you all.

The projects funded by the provincial department of agriculture and agrarian reform are failing to create jobs and will not yield any developmental results.

These projects are not sustainable as the department is simply complying with legislation and is failing dismally when it comes to ensuring the sustainability of these projects.

I was very disturbed to learn that Fresh and Delicious a cooperative in Kliplaat received more than R1 million from the department, but only employed 10 people during its construction and is now defunct. There is no water and no electricity on the site and the chickens and eggs that were produced were all sold at a very low price following advice from a departmental official. The department must investigate this matter and take decisive remedial actions, where the law has been broken.

Vulindlela Farm, a goat farming project which started in 2014 received nearly R800 000.00 from government and has only managed to create one full-time job, has no boundary fence, no sufficient grazing land and no water for its livestock. How can anyone expect this project to survive?

When government uses taxpayer’s money to fund projects, there should be follow through to track the money and ensure that it is used where it is most needed, that is on the fundamentals of each project. Having an agricultural project without access to clean water is a recipe for disaster and a waste of money.

The largest contributor to the provincial agricultural economy is animal production; however, the animal production projects that were visited are missing the opportunity to participate in this growth- due to their inability to sustain themselves. Some beneficiaries simply drop out of the projects as our people are looking for instant benefits- they need to be trained on how to run their projects as businesses and not simply look for quick and easy profits.

The inability of smallholder farmers to operate commercially is indeed a lost opportunity for the province- this sector should create growth and employment for our women and youth who are hungry for jobs.

We cannot continue to talk about the lack of coordination and poor intergovernmental relations year in and year out- the solutions are very clear- put appropriate policies and regulations in place and invest in infrastructure. We cannot expect to have a thriving agricultural industry at the back of dilapidated roads. If farmers are renting municipal land- the municipality must ensure access to essentials such as water, electricity and public works must ensure proper maintenance of the roads.

Madam Speaker, in conclusion, the Democratic Alliance welcomes the announcement by the Minister of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Zweli Mkhize, that the drought that has gripped the country has been declared a national disaster. The declaration will unlock disaster relief funds which will assist in dealing with this crisis.

But if we are committed to redressing the injustices of the past through land reform in a way that truly empowers poor black people and strengthens the economy, we should do away with corruption, bad and outdated policy and chronic underfunding of agricultural projects.