Statesmanship needed in State of the nation address

“The distress signals coming from the economy and citizens of the country can no longer be ignored” says Johannes Moller. President of Agri SA. The country is perceived as rudderless by many, a view justified by the reality of our country hovering between junk status credit ratings and a desperate need to attract investment he said. Undefined utterances like “radical transformation” with its destructive undertones is also most certainly not supporting the course for a better economic growth trajectory and employment creation. If we as South Africans were to draw an analogy with the vision of Pres Donald Trump of the USA “making South Africa great again” should at least as a point of departure be considered by president Zuma in the upcoming state of the nation address (SONA).

“Clearly South Africans are no longer willing to be exploited as sacrificial lambs for the so-called common good as defined by politicians –  the latter being the very people more often than not responsible for the decline of the country through poor custodianship of national assets, poor management of state owned enterprises, fiscal ignorance and levels of corruption taking on epidemic proportions” Moller said. “We as an apolitical organisation representing an important segment of the national and rural economy obviously have a definite interest in the economic well-being of the country and we are most certainly aware of political and constitutional imperatives especially in relation to transformation that have to be adhered to. We have demonstrated this through various submissions, proposals and engagements that in our view could have served economic sustainability, fiscal limitations and transformation through inter alia land reform equally well. Government was inconspicuous in their response thus far in fact clearly impracticable options like land ceilings came to the fore instead. Recently the notion of expropriation has apparently gained traction in political circles. Given fiscal pressures it is not clear what funds will become available in this regard as expropriation implies compensation; unless radical interventions of sorts are contemplated”.

Moller said that he was disillusioned with governments lukewarm approach during the recent drought. “In my view, we as an organisation exercised the utmost restrained in our requests to government for support to farmers to financially bridge one of the most severe droughts in history, effectively to very little avail; clearly current and future food security considerations could not bring about better insights.

“Agri SA along with other business partners in Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) are seeking policy certainty on a number of transversal matters, some like the aforementioned more peculiar to the agricultural sector. President Zuma referred to the National Development Plan in previous SONA’s. Some indication of whether it is still to guide the economy in future will be helpful.  The role of treasury has been critical in avoiding junk status and in maintaining fiscal discipline.  We however expect the President to respect this and to provide a more visionary approach as to how the numerous economic and social ills of the country will be tackled in practical terms.”

“Like all leaders, I do believe that Pres Zuma wants to leave a respected legacy behind, previous engagements with him lead me to believe just that. I trust that true statesmanship will be reflected by the SONA in the interest of South Africa.”