Dti to amend Sugar Act if dispute not resolved

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Department of Trade and Industry is considering amending the Sugar Act should the current impasse between the South African Cane Growers Association (SACGA) and South African Farmer Development Association (SAFDA) is not resolved.

Briefing Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry on Wednesday, the Department of Trade and Industry’s’ (dti) Director General Lionel October said should the impasse still not be resolved, Minister Rob Davies might consider amending regulations and the Sugar Act of 1978 itself.

SAFDA argues that the sugar industry does not recognise them as an independent cane growers’ association representing mainly the land reform beneficiaries in the sugar sector.

The association broke away from SACGA in 2015, and key to their contribution of the levies collected by the South African Sugar Association (SASA) as legislated in the Sugar Industry Agreement and Sugar Act as amended, in order to be able to undertake their own development.

“The dti has been involved for some time in trying to find a mediated settlement between SAFDA and SACGA. Despite the intervention of a skilled mediator, SACGA refused to relinquish its dominance, rejecting the department’s suggestion of a 50/50 split between the two associations, even though an ideal solution is the formation of one federation equally representing all interest,” October told the Committee.

October said in terms of the legislation, the dti received inputs from the Millers association on how to effectively amend the constitution and the regulation and ensure the department act strictly in terms of the Constitution.

He said the department also directed SASA to take leadership in drafting the requisite changes to the SASA Constitution and the Sugar Industry Agreement in order to effect the requisite changes.

SASA administers the partnership on behalf of the SACGA and the South African Sugar Millers’ Association Ltd.

“Secondly the department has commenced with a review of the BEE status of the SACGA as per recommendation of the portfolio committee. Our legal department is now fully involved in this process, we are looking at B-BBEE certificates of the association, the organisational structure of the cane growers’ association, and we are also going through the latest financial reports and statements, as well as Employment Equity Plan and any transformation plan that was there,” he said.

October added that SASA must amend the SASA Constitution to reflect SAFDA as a recognised cane growers’ body within SASA. He said failure to resolve this impasse at the Special Meeting of Delegates will trigger the Minister’s power to amend the sugar legislation.

The South African Sugar Association is an autonomous organisation and operates free of government control. In terms of the Sugar Act and Sugar Industry Agreement, statutory powers of self-governance are granted to the sugar industry.

SAFDA is a member-based, voluntary non-profit association of emerging and small-scale farmers that was formed in 2015 to represent their developmental needs within the sugar industry.

In October, the Portfolio Committee met with SAFDA to hear its concerns regarding it not being recognised by the SASA and the SACGA.

At the October meeting the Committee acknowledged that swift action should be taken on the matter.

The Committee proposed that the Minister should consider amendments to the Sugar Act of 1978 and the regulations to address the recognition of alternative associations including SAFDA. - SAnews.gov.za

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