[:en]Presidential address by Johannes Möller, delivered on 15 October 2015 during the Agri SA congress held at the St George Hotel conference centre, Pretoria.

Guests of honour, delegates and others: you have already been welcomed and I appreciate your presence.
Mervyn King, doyenne of good corporate governance, views it as a challenge for any organisation to not only fulfil its responsibilities towards shareholders, staff and consumers of its products and services, but also to take responsibility for the consequences of its actions for broader society and the community. That is why good corporate citizenship requires greater thought behind decision-making, considering the wider consequences thereof before a decision is taken. This is particularly applicable to an organisation like Agri SA, whose core business revolves around policy inputs, of which the results have a wide impact in the community.

Even though agriculture’s direct contribution to the economy is less than 3 percent, the industry, as a consumer of inputs and services and as producer of raw materials for the food and fibre industry, has a significant impact on the economy. In addition, the contribution of agriculture to food security, rural development, job creation and as steward of our natural resources should also be taken into account when determining its value.

The net result of this is that everyone in our society has an interest in the achievements and the well-being of the agricultural sector. As a result, it is also true that we as farmers, government and other role players in the value chain need the public’s understanding that a supportive policy dispensation is required to develop the sector. The role of the media in this respect is hugely important.

Agri SA is acutely aware of the fact that policy is approved and implemented by government and that our role as a civil society organisation is mainly limited to that of a source of information, an advisor and civil society partner. It is important to Agri SA that we nurture this relationship whilst upholding our objectivity and serving the best interests our constituency with integrity. To promote unity about agriculture, we are intent on maintaining Agri SA’s apolitical position, its network of relationships and the expertise that underlies its inputs.

There has to be broader buy-in in regarding what agriculture can contribute to development and empowerment. This is a continuous debate, and given South Africa’s divided past, there are challenges to address, especially on how to grow inclusivity without disrupting the existing competitive capacity of the sector, which is, amongst others, important for maintaining national food security. We must not succumb to negativity in this regard: to a large extent, agriculture in South Africa has its points of departure for its future development in place and we are hard at work to effect the additions that are needed, so that we can continue making satisfactory progress.

As was the case in 2014, this congress will demonstrate that Agri SA has committed itself to contribute to a South Africa which offers a good home to all its citizens. The development, profitability, stability and sustainability of agriculture is all we strive for. Our inputs, whether on national or international level, are exclusively aimed at realising these goals.
Agri SA has access to a variety of forums and processes where its views are incorporated into policy, legislation and programmes. To name a few examples:
• At NEDLAC, a plethora of new draft legislation regulating land and labour were submitted and debated before submission to parliament. Agri SA pro-actively participated in these processes, with considerable legal aid.
• We participated in Minister Nkwinti’s consultative processes around land reform, inside the framework of the National Development Plan. Comprehensive inputs were given, among others about the streamlining of restitution, alternative approaches to the proposed limitations to land ownership and relative rights policy, the functioning of district land committees and private sector participation in Agri Parks.
• To find an acceptable funding mechanism to give stimulus to land reform remains a challenge. A breakthrough in this regard is urgently needed.
• We supported the investigation by the International Labour Organisation into the living and working conditions of farm workers, to establish an objective and generally acceptable information base for policy decisions around labour issues. The report provides much food for thought.
• We contracted the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) to conduct a study into the influence of different wage scenarios on the profitability of the sector and job creation.
• We gave inputs to the Human Rights Commission to aid its investigation into safety conditions on farms which rendered positive results.
• We are participating in consultative processes about amendments to water policy and the price determination for water.
• We gave considerable attention to the implications of the doctrine of public custodianship which it is applied in South African legislation. We note that this concept is not only used for public oversight and the protection of natural resources like land and water, but also for redistribution.
• Our agreement to cooperate with the Chamber of Mines to limit the negative environmental impact of mining operations, was taken a step further this year.
• Our inputs about the management of the electricity crisis and the revision of electricity tariffs were taken into account.
• Inputs around the generation of renewable power on farms are work in progress. This has the potential to both save costs and be an additional source of income for farmers.
• We are in discussions with SARS about the diesel rebate system and giving inputs into the revision of the VAT dispensation as it applies to agricultural products.
• We actively participate in the review of trade agreements through the Agriculture Trade Forum.
• Our inputs into the determination and management of disaster aid continue to bear fruit. Current climatic conditions give rise to serious concerns. We regard timeous planning for the management of of possible negative scenarios as of critical importance.

More examples of inputs given at policy level can be mentioned, but the organisation’s responsibility does not end there. Whilst it is important that our views are heard and taken into account, our actions should also demonstrate our contribution to serving the interests of South Africa. It is especially on the social development level where huge needs have to be addressed to create a stable environment for sustainable agriculture.

This need prompted us to strengthen our in-house expertise and capacity, taking into account findings of the mentioned investigation into the living and working conditions of farm workers as well as that of a perception study conducted by Agri SA among a representative group of South African consumers. This latter study found that consumers do have appreciation for agriculture’s circumstances and contributions. Yet, there is a perception that farmers can do more to support rural development, to take better care of their workers and to contribute to their development.

Because Agri SA’s affiliates are our contact point with farmers and local communities, we have to rely on what our members contribute to social development. Never-the-less, Agri SA cannot escape the responsibility to add stimulus to such initiatives.

Success usually attracts support. There is great potential to form partnerships in this field because poverty and inequalities are huge challenges faced by all serious role-players in our society and economy, or at least it should be. We can likely help unlock more resources for development and where there are gaps, provide guidance.
For this reason a national strategy will be presented to congress that will enable organised agriculture and its partners to make a bigger impact on this sensitive issue.

Apart from its strategy for social development, we felt the need to give a clear exposition in Agri SA’s constitution of the values that support our vision and mission. These values, together with other technical amendments which are required for compliance with tax legislation, will also be considered by congress.
The interests of agriculture are closely intertwined with those of the rest of the economy and of society. This is why the circumstances prevailing in the rest of the economy and in society is also important to agriculture. Unfortunately, I have serious concerns about the prevailing circumstances. There are few people that still doubt whether South Africa is facing a moral challenge given that corruption, other crimes and mismanagement dominate the news on a daily basis. Key government institutions and enterprises have lost credibility and numerous unanswered questions undermine peoples’ trust. Moral decay, not adhering to acceptable standards and a lack of business confidence do not count in South Africa’s favour when foreign investors consider South Africa as an investment option.

Mr Trevor Manuel, speaking at the Financial Times Africa Summit in London recently, proposed that the corruption problem in South Africa should be tackled Chinese-style to restore trust. He was further of the view that neither consumer spending nor a raft of new policies and programmes would lift the economy out of its moribund state. He said: “It’s about leading everybody so that you have people together agreeing on trade-offs. In the absence of this political leadership, what had emerged was a situation in which there are too many different business organisations and discordant voices and too many different trade unions and discordant voices. As a result, government does not know which way to go…”.

It is under these circumstances that constitutional institutions such as the Public Protector, Human Rights Commission and an efficient auditor-general, together with those of an independent judiciary an respect for freedom of expression, seem indispensable to our young democracy. Our own conduct must, however, portray the values we believe in. That is the point of departure from which one can address others’ transgressions, wasteful spending or lack of discipline.

The result of the prevailing conditions – many of which are self-induced – is weak business confidence and low economic growth. Last week, the Standard Bank Purchasing Managers’ Index showed a fall to a 14 month low. At the same time it was reported that the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s business confidence index reached a 22-year low, in the midst of a struggling economy and poor exports.

Whilst South Africa has steadied the trend of declining competitiveness by achieving a slight improvement in the year under review, the global economic outlook does not bode well for accelerating our economic growth.
In its most recent outlook report for Southern Africa, the World Bank adjusted its economic growth forecast for South Africa for this year to 1,5 %, the same as that of the Reserve Bank.

The International Monetary Fund is even more pessimistic, pitching it at 1.4. According to World Bank lead economist for South Africa, Catoria Purfield, at these low growth rates at least 14% of South Africans would remain in extreme poverty and unemployment would increase, given the threats to jobs in mining.
Considering the expected growth in population and increased unemployment, it implies that many South Africans will be worse-off in the foreseeable future. Slow economic growth will naturally also exert pressure on the ability of government to expand its social services and to support development.

We note that the frustration levels of ordinary people are on the increase. This is evident from protest marches about service delivery and extended strikes in the mining sector with potentially huge negative implications for the economy. Polarisation and protest in communities about cultural and educational matters is likely a result of unsatisfactory progress with development and empowerment. Professor Dan Kgwadi of the North-West University recently said that “We are dealing with an angry generation. We must allow them to give expression to their anger.” One can only hope and trust that President Zuma’s warning that such protest action should not be destructive, does not fall on deaf ears.

These conditions and events have political implications which, building up to next year’s local government elections, could be stirred up and exploited even further. We must be prepared to manage this and to do what is necessary to prevent it from disrupting our communities and businesses.

I noted Minister Zokwana’s recent address at a Landbouweekblad conference, where he shared his views regarding what should be done to build the mutual trust which is required to take agriculture forward as a winning industry. He said: “Solutions can only be found through partnerships between us. If we listen to each other, we can find common ground and overcome obstacles. Government wishes to create an investor-friendly environment and make progress with the transformation agenda at the same time. Government must do more to attract private sector investment to promote socio-economic outcomes such as food security.” Mr Zokwana, Agri SA is prepared to walk this road with you.

Minister Zokwana’s comments complement those of Mr Manuel. Our country needs leadership that facilitates meaningful dialogue and builds consensus about policy and execution. Our country has the human and natural resources to perform far better than the current annual growth rate of about 1,5%, which is very disappointing. We are of the view that the National Development Plan provides a good framework for development which can overturn the current negative trend. It is now the responsibility of government and civil society organisations to improve cooperation with policy formulation and implementation. In this regard, due consideration should also be given to the 9 point plan which president Zuma put forward in his State of the Nation address, aimed at igniting growth and creating jobs.

To any person who asks what Agri SA’s contribution to all of this could be, my answer is this: agriculture can only prosper in a stable environment. While we should retain our focus on the profitability of agriculture, we also have the responsibility to reach out, to help with development and to cooperate with others who have the same goals. It is also necessary that we review our role and contribution at local government level, because it is on this level where limitations or opportunities determine the quality of life for people. I therefore look forward to tomorrow’s theme on local government where we will be honoured to welcome the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mr Pravin Gordhan, as speaker.

To take South Africa forward, I ask each one of us to retain a positive attitude and trust that every small deed can help build a better future. At Agri SA we have a leadership team that is committed to this. In turn, they commit their organisations and members to this. Our closer relationship with mega farmers through the Pro Agri Forum and cooperation with other agricultural organisations through ASUF are steps that have already been taken to strengthen consensus about and in agriculture. Together we can achieve more.

We realise, however, that such a commitment puts pressure on agricultural organisations’ funding and capacity. However, at Agri SA we are of the view that if it goes hand-in-hand with good planning and management, challenges can be turned into opportunities.

With the retirement of senior personnel we have used the opportunity to expand Agri SA’s capacity for service delivery. This has short-term cost implications, but with new strategies and innovative ways to strengthen and expand partnerships, I am confident that we will find ways to make a far greater impact on the development of agriculture in the near future.

This congress allows us the opportunity to build forth on Agri SA’s positive approach of the past few years. The agenda points offer delegates the opportunity to debate our mandate around the critical issues that I mentioned, and to give guidance. I trust that in this way we also succeed in expanding consensus around what is necessary to develop agriculture to its full potential.
[:za]Presidentsrede van Johannes Möller, gelewer op 15 Oktober 2015 tydens Agri SA se kongres, gehou by die St George Hotel se konferensiesentrum, Pretoria.

Eregaste, afgevaardigdes en andere: julle is reeds verwelkom en ek waardeer julle teenwoordigheid.
Mervyn King, die doyen van goeie korporatiewe bestuurspraktyke, stel dit as ‘n uitdaging aan enige organisasie om sy verantwoordelikhede nie net teenoor aandeelhouers, personeel en die verbruikers van sy produkte en dienste na te kom nie, maar ook verantwoordelikheid te neem vir die gevolge van sy handelinge vir die breër gemeenskap en omgewing. Daarom vereis goeie korporatiewe burgerskap groter nadenke met die oorweging van die besluite asook die wyer implikasies daarvan alvorens ‘n besluit geneem word. Dit is veral van toepassing op ‘n organisasie soos Agri SA wie se kernbesigheid oor beleidsinsette handel, waarvan die gevolge wyd in die gemeenskap uitkring.

Hoewel landbou direk minder as 3 persent tot die ekonomie bydra het die bedryf as gebruiker van insette en dienste en as verskaffer van grondstowwe aan die voedsel- en veselbedryf ‘n wesenlike impak op die ekonomie. Toegevoeg hierby moet landbou se bydraes tot voedselsekerheid, landelike ontwikkeling, werkskepping en as rentmeester van ons natuurlike hulpbronne ook met die bepaling van sy waarde in ag geneem word.

Die netto resultaat hiervan is dat almal in ons samelewing ‘n belang in die prestasie en wel en weë van die landboubedryf het. Daarom het landbouers, ander rolspelers in die waardeketting asook die regering die begrip van die publiek nodig vir ‘n ondersteunende beleidsbedeling om die bedryf te ontwikkel. Die media se rol hiermee is van besondere belang.

Agri SA is terdeë bewus daarvan dat beleid deur die regering goedgekeur en toegepas word en dat Agri SA se rol as burgerlike samelewingsorganisasie grootliks tot dié van ‘n inligtingsbron, adviseur en maatskaplike vennoot beperk is. Vir Agri SA is dit belangrik om hierdie verhouding goed te versorg. Ons objektiwiteit en vermoë om die belange van ons lede met integriteit te dien, stel ons egter nie ondergeskik hieraan nie. Agri SA se A-politiese posisionering, sy netwerkverhoudinge en die kundigheid wat onderliggend tot sy insette is, wil ons graag handhaaf om ook eenheid oor landbou te bevorder.

Daar moet ‘n wyer inkoop wees oor wat landbou tot ontwikkeling en bemagtiging kan bydra. Hierdie debat is deurlopend en gegewe Suid-Afrika se verdeelde verlede, is daar uitdagings wat oorbrug moet word, veral oor hoe om groter inklusiwiteit te bewerkstellig sonder om die bestaande mededingende bedryfsbedeling – waardeur onder andere nasionale voedselsekerheid gehandhaaf word – te ontwrig. Ons moet nie hieroor in negatiwiteit verval nie: landbou in Suid-Afrika het reeds grootliks die vertrekpunte vir sy toekoms in plek en ons werk onvermoeid aan wat bykomend nodig is om bevredigend te bly vorder.

Soos wat in 2014 die geval was, sal hierdie kongres met sy besprekings demonstreer dat Agri SA hom sterk verbind het tot ‘n leiers-bydrae om Suid-Afrika ‘n goeie tuiste vir al sy burgers te maak. Landbou se ontwikkeling, winsgewendheid, stabiliteit en volhoubaarheid is ons enigste strewes. Ons insette, hetsy op nasionale of internasionale vlak, is uitsluitlik daarop gerig.

Agri SA het toegang tot tot ‘n wye reeks forums en prosesse waar sy standpunte met die formulering van beleid, wetgewing en programme ingevoer word. Om enkele voorbeelde te noem:
• By NEDLAC was al die onlangse konsepwetgewing oor grond en arbeid voorgelê en gedebateer alvorens dit by die parlement ingedien is. Agri SA het aktief en met aansienlike regshulp aan dié prosesse deelgeneem.
• Ons neem voluit deel aan minister se Nkwinti se raadplegingsprosesse oor grondhervorming, binne die raamwerk van Nasionale Ontwikkelingsplan.
• Om ‘n aanvaarbare finansieringsmeganisme te vind waarmee stimulus aan grondhervorming gegee kan word, bly ‘n uitdaging. ‘n Deurbraak hieroor is dringend nodig.
• Ons het die Internasionale Arbeidsorganisasie se onafhanklike ondersoek na die leef- en werkomstandighede van plaaswerkers ondersteun om ‘n meer objektiewe en algemeen aanvaarde inligtingbasis vir beleidsbesluite oor arbeidsaangeleenthede daar te stel. Daar is baie stof tot nadenke wat uit hierdie verslag na vore kom.
• Ons het die Buro vir Voedsel- en Landboubeleid (BFAP) gekontrakteer om vir ons ‘n studie te doen oor die invloed van verskillende loonscenarios op die winsgewendheid van die bedryf en op werkskepping.
• Ons het insette by die Menseregtekommissie gelewer met sy ondersoek na die veiligheidstoestande op plase.
• Ons neem deel aan raadplegingsprosesse oor wysigings aan waterbeleid en die prysvasstelling van water.
• Ons het heelwat aandag gewy aan die implikasies van die openbare kuratorskap-benadering soos wat dit in Suid-Afrikaanse wetgewing toepassing vind. Ons neem waar dat dié konsep ook vir herverdeling en nie net vir openbare toesighouding en die beskerming van natuurlike hulpbronne, soos grond en water, aangewend word.
• Ons ooreenkoms om met die Kamer van Mynwese saam te werk om die negatiewe omgewingsimplikasies van mynbou te beperk, is vanjaar verder gevoer.
• Ons insette is in ag geneem met die bestuur van die elektrisiteitskrisis asook met hersiening van die elektrisiteitstarief.
• Insette ten opsigte van opwekking van hernubare krag op plase is werk in proses. Dit het die potensiaal om vir boere koste-besparend en ‘n addisionele inkomstebron te wees.
• Ons voer gesprekke met die SAID oor die dieselkortingstelsel en die gee insette met die hersiening van die BTW-bedeling soos van toepassing op landbouprodukte.
• Deur middel van die Landbouhandelsforum neem ons aktief deel aan die evaluering van handelsooreenkomste.
• Ons insette met die bepaling en bestuur van ramphulp bly vrugte afwerp. Die heersende droogte is egter ‘n rede vir groot kommer. Ons sal spoedig planne in werking moet stel vir die hantering van ‘n negatiewe scenario, indien die droogte sou voortduur.

Meer voorbeelde van insette op beleidsvlak kan genoem word, maar hoewel dit vir Agri SA belangrik is dat sy standpunte aangehoor en in ag geneem word, moet ons optrede ook demonstreer dat ons positiewe bydraes in belang van Suid-Afrika lewer. Dit is veral die geval op die sosiaal-maatskaplike ontwikkelingsterrein waar daar groot behoeftes is wat dringend aangespreek moet word om ‘n stabiele omgewing vir die volhoubare beoefening van die bedryf te skep.

Hierdie behoefte het Agri SA genoodsaak om sy inhuis-kundigheid en kapasiteit te versterk, onder andere na aanleiding van die bevindinge in die reeds vermelde ondersoek na die leef- en werkomstandighede van plaaswerkers, maar ook dié van ‘n persepsiestudie wat Agri SA onder ‘n verteenwoordigende groep van Suid-Afrika se verbruikersgemeenskap laat doen het. Uit dié opname het begrip en waardering vir die landbou duidelik na vore gekom. Tog is daar ‘n siening dat boere meer kan doen om landelike ontwikkeling te ondersteun en hul werkers beter te versorg en op te hef.

Omdat Agri SA se affiliasies die kontakpunt met landbouers en plaaslike gemeenskappe is, is dié organisasie grootliks aangewese op dit wat sy lede tot sosiaal-maatskaplike ontwikkeling bydra. Maar Agri SA kan nie die verantwoordelikheid ontsnap om stimulus aan sodanige innisiatiewe te gee nie. Deur die beter belyning en koördinering van talle programme en aksies wat reeds toegepas word, kan ons die impak daarvan verhoog.

Sukses lok gewoonlik ondersteuning. Daar is groot potensiaal om op hierdie terrein vennootskappe te vorm omdat armoede en ongelykhede ‘n reuse uitdaging vir alle ernstige rolspelers in ons samelewing en ekonomie is, òf behoort te wees. Sodoende kan ons waarskynlik ook meer hulpbronne vir ontwikkeling help ontsluit en waar daar gapings is, leiding verskaf.

Vir dié rede gaan ‘n strategie aan die kongres voorhou word waardeur die georganiseerde landbou saam met vennote ‘n groter impak op hierdie sensitiewe terrein kan maak.
Benewens sy strategie vir sosiaal-maatskaplike ontwikkeling het ons dit nodig gevind om in Agri SA se grondwet ‘n duidelike uiteensetting te gee van die waardes waarbinne dié organisasie sy visie en misie wil najaag en uitleef. Hierdie waardes sal saam met ander tegniese voorstelle, wat onder andere vir voldoening aan belastingwetgewing van belang is, as grondwetwysigings aan die kongres voorgehou word.

Landbou se belange is nou verweef met dié van die res van die ekonomie en samelewing. Daarom is dit wat in die res van die ekonomie en samelewing ondervind word, ook vir die landbou van belang. Hieroor het ek ongelukkig heelwat kommer. Daar is by min mense twyfel dat Suid-Afrika voor ‘n morele uitdaging te staan gekom het, gegewe wat met korrupsie, ander vorme van misdaad en wanadministrasie daagliks die nuus haal. Sleutelstaatsinstellings en staatsondernemings se waardigheid is reeds ernstig hierdeur afgetakel en talle beskuldigings en onbeantwoorde vrae breek vertroue af. Morele verval, die nie-handhawing van aanvaarbare standaarde en ‘n gebrek aan sakevertroue tel nie in Suid-Afrika se guns wanneer buitelandse beleggers Suid-Afrika as ‘n bestemming vir investering oorweeg nie.

Tydens die onlangse Financial Times Africa Summit in Londen het mnr Trevor Manuel voorgestel dat Suid-Afrika se korrupsieprobleem op ‘Sjinese-styl’ aangespreek moet word om vertroue te herbou. Sy standpunt was verder dat nié verbruikersbesteding of nuwe beleidrigtings en programme, die ekonomie uit sy huidige toestand sal ruk nie. Hy het gesê: “Dit gaan daaroor om leiding aan almal te gee sodat mense saamstem wanneer ‘n kompromis aangegaan word. In die afwesigheid van hierdie politieke leierskap het ons in ‘n situasie beland waar daar te veel besigheidsorganisasies en verdeelde stemme is, asook te veel vakbonde en verdeelde stemme. Gevolglik weet die regering nie watter rigting om in te slaan nie…”

Dit is in hierdie omstandighede waar grondwetlike instellings soos die Openbare Beskermer, ‘n doeltreffende ouditeur-generaal en die Menseregtekommissie se bydraes saam met dié van ‘n onafhanklike regbank en respek vir vryheid van spraak, onontbeerlik vir ons jong demokrasie blyk te wees. Ons eie optrede moet egter ‘n toonbeeld wees van die waardes waarin ons glo. Dit is die vertrekpunt waarvan andere se vergrype, verkwisting of gebrek aan dissipline aangespreek kan word.

Die resultaat van heersende omstandighede – waarvan verskeie Suid-Afrika se eie maaksel is – is swak sakevertroue en ‘n lae ekonomiese groeikoers. Verlede week het Standard Bank se ‘Purchasing Managers’ indeks tot die laagste in 14 maande gedaal.

Gelyklopend hiermee is berig dat die Suid-Afrikaanse Kamer van Handel en Nywerheid se sakevertroue-indeks ‘n 22-jaar laagtepunt bereik het te midde van ‘n sukkelende ekonomie en swak uitvoere.
Alhoewel Suid-Afrika sy verswakkende mededingingsposisie effens gestuit het deur ‘n geringe verbetering die afgelope jaar, dui die globale ekonomiese vooruitskatting daarop dat ons ekonomie waarskynlik nie veel gaan groei nie.

In sy jongste vooruitskattingsverslag vir Suider-Afrika, het die Wêreldbank sy ekonomiese groei-vooruitskatting vir Suid-Africa vir vanjaar tot 1,5% aangepas. Vir volgende jaar is die vooruitskatting 1,7%. Die Internasionale Monetêre Fonds is selfs meer pessimisties oor groeivooruitsigte en voorspel 1,4%. Volgens die Wêreldbank se hoofekonoom vir Suid-Afrika, Catoria Purfield, beteken hierdie lae groeikoerse dat ten minste 14% van Suid-Afrikaners in ekstreme armoede gaan voortleef en dat werkloosheid gaan toeneem, veral met die verwagte afleggings in die mynbedryf.

Met die verwagte bevolkingsgroei en stygende werkloosheid, blyk dit dat baie Suid-Afrikaners in die nabye toekoms slegter daaraan toe sal wees. Die swak ekonomiese groei gaan noodwendig ook druk op die vermoë van die staatskas plaas om sy maatskaplike dienste uit te brei en ontwikkeling te ondersteun.

Ons neem waar dat die frustrasievlak by gewone mense aan die opbou is. Dit blyk uit protesoptogte oor dienslewering en uitgebreide stakings in die mynboubedryf wat potensiëel groot negatiewe implikasies vir die ekonomie inhou. Polarisasie en protes in die gemeenskap oor kulturele en opvoedkundige aangeleenthede is waarskynlik ook ‘n gevolg van onbevredigende vordering met ontwikkeling en bemagtiging. Professor Dan Kgwadi van die Noordwes Universiteit het onlangs hieroor gesê: “Ons het hier met ‘n woedende generasie te make. Ons moet toelaat dat hulle uiting daaraan gee”. Mens kan net hoop en vertrou dat President Zuma se maning dat sodanige protesoptrede nie afbrekend moet wees nie, nie op dowe ore val nie.

Hierdie omstandighede en gebeure het politieke implikasies wat in aanloop tot volgende jaar se plaaslike regeringsverkiesing verder aangeblaas en uitgebuit kan word. Ons moet voorbereid wees om dit te hanteer en doen wat nodig is om te verhoed dat dit nie ons gemeenskappe en besighede ontwrig nie.

Ek vernneem dat minister Zokwana onlangs by ‘n Landbouweekblad-konferensie sy mening gegee het oor wat ons te doen staan om vertroue te skep en landbou as ‘n wenbedryf vorentoe te neem. Hy het gesê: “Oplossings kan net verkry word deur vennootskappe tussen ons. As ons na mekaar luister, kan ons gemeenskaplike terrein vind en so struikelblokke oorkom. Die staat wil ‘n beleggersvriendelike omgewing skep terwyl hy ook vorder met die transformasie-agenda. Die regering moet meer doen om beleggings uit die private sektor te lok om maatskaplik-ekonomiese uitkomste – soos voedseksekerheid – te bevorder”. Mnr Zokwana, Agri SA is bereid om hierdie pad saam met u stap.

Minister Zokwane se opmerkings sluit goed aan by dié van mnr Manuel. Ons land het ‘n behoefte aan leierskap wat sinvolle dialoog fasiliteer en konsensus bou oor beleid en die toepassing daarvan. Ons land hét die mense én hulpbronne om veelvoudig beter te presteer as die uiters teleurstellende groeikoers van tans rondom 1,5% per jaar. Ons standpunt is dat Nasionale Ontwikkelingsplan ‘n goeie raamwerk vir ontwikkeling bied wat die huidige negatiewe tendens kan omkeer. Dit is nou die regering en burgerlike samelewing se verantwoordelikheid saam te werk met beleidsformulering en die implimentering daarvan. Hiermee moet ook goeie oorweging gegee word aan die 9-punt plan wat President Zuma in sy staatsrede aangekondig het, wat daarop gemik is om groei te stimuleer en werk te skep.

Vir enige persoon wat vra oor wat Agri SA se bydrae hiertoe kan wees, wil ek antwoord: landbou kan slegs gedy in ‘n stabiele sameling. Terwyl ons sterk moet bly fokus om landbou se winsgewendheid te verseker, het ons ook die verantwoordelikheid om uit te reik, te help met ontwikkeling en met andere saam te werk wat dieselfde wil bereik. Daarom is dit onder andere nodig dat ons ook herbesin oor ons rol en bydraes op plaaslike regeringsvlak, want dit is op daardie vlak waar beperkings of geleenthede bepalend vir die lewenskwaliteit van mense is. Daarom sien ek uit na môre se tema oor plaaslike regering waar die minister van samewerkende regering en tradisionele aangeleenthede, mnr Pravin Gordhan, ons die eer aandoen om as spreker op te tree.

Om Suid-Afrika vorentoe te neem, vra van elkeen ‘n positiewe ingesteldheid en ‘n vertroue daarin dat elke klein daad kan meedoen om ‘n beter toekoms te bou. By Agri SA het ons ‘n leiersgroep wat hulle hiertoe verbind het. Op hul beurt verbind hulle hul organisasies en lede daartoe. Ons nouer verhouding met megaboere deur middel van Pro Afri Forum en die samewerking wat ons met ander landbou-organisies deur ASUF nastreef, is stappe wat reeds gedoen is om konsensus in en oor landbou te verstewig. Saam kan ons meer bereik.

Ons besef dat hierdie verbintenis druk op landbou-organisasies se befondsing en kapasiteit plaas. By Agri SA het ons egter die siening dat indien dit met goeie beplanning en –bestuur aangepak word, uitdagings in geleenthede omskep kan word.

Met die uittrede van senior personeel het ons die geleentheid benut om Agri SA se kapasiteit vir dienslewering uit te brei. Dit het korttermyn koste-implikasies maar met nuwe strategië en innoverende stappe om vennootskappe te verstewig en uit te brei, het ek volle vertroue dat ons die middele gaan vind om in die nabye toekoms ‘n veel groter impak op landbou-ontwikkeling te maak.

Dié kongres gee vir ons die geleentheid om voort te bou op die positiewe benadering van die afgelope paar jaar. Die sakelys bied vir afgevaardigdes die geleentheid om ons mandate rondom die uitdagende aangeleenthede waarna ek verwys het te debateer en leiding daaromtrent te gee. Ek vertrou dat ons hiermee die konsensus sal uitbou oor dit wat nodig is om die landbou tot sy volle potensiaal te ontwikkel.
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