Agri SA Commentry on the SONA

“Amidst trying circumstances president Zuma carried himself well when delivering the SONA last night, says Johannes Moller, president of Agri SA. Proceedings prior to him delivering his address might have had entertainment value but most certainly does not portray a country where people seek to enhance the well-being of all citizens in an orderly and disciplined fashion”.

Moller said that Agri SA, before the SONA, called for statesmanship in dealing with the many economic and social ills of the country and that the organization expressed reservations with the intended content of “radical transformation”. “President Zuma did deal with a number of related matters in visionary manner and the principles in relation to transformation expressed by him can in my view on especially a cooperative basis between government and private sector be put into practice.

“President Zuma made mention of laudable land reform initiatives conducted by farmers in cooperation with farm workers. He emphasized the importance of the National Development Plan and the Constitution, the very frameworks which Agri SA also used to present workable land reform proposals to government. Of concern, though is the uncertainties in relation to the Expropriation Bill having been referred back to parliament, the intended changes to the Competition Act to deal with concentration of ownership and even the envisaged Property Practitioners Bill. Agri SA like many other stakeholders have again prior to the SONA stressed the need for policy certainty, admittedly a tough ask but of paramount importance to restore South Africa as a preferred destination for foreign direct investment”.

Moller said that Agri SA will as in the past adhere to the request from the president to work with the SAPS to ensure safer communities. “Needless to emphasize the importance of rural safety to the farming community for us as an organization”.

“President Zuma made mention of R2,5 billion having been allocated towards drought aid. “Agri SA questions this amount, in fact in our view very little support was received in this regard. We will however engage with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on how this was calculated.”

“Some years ago, the “butterfly” approach with respect to trade was mooted by government, meaning trade into Africa and with all parts of the world. The president again referred extensively to trade agreements with e.g. the European Union, Mercosur countries, Africa, China and some of the Brics members. For the agricultural sector, trade and related matters are of obvious importance and I wish to commend government for successes in this regard.”

“Like president Zuma, I also wish apartheid to become a faint memory and for South Africa to become great again.”