President drums up support for agriculture revolution

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

President Cyril Ramaphosa says land reform is a priority for South Africa and addressing the issue of land needs to happen immediately.

The President on Tuesday said it was time to usher in a new era of agricultural revolution in rural areas.

The President said this when he addressed the official opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders at the Old Assembly Chamber on Tuesday.

The Annual Official Opening of the House is conducted in terms of Section 8 (1) (b) of the National House of Traditional Leaders Act, 2009 (Act No 22 of 2009) (the Act). In terms of the Act, proceedings are presided over by the President of the Republic of South Africa or any person designated by the President for this purpose.

Addressing the opening, the President said the country’s traditional leaders need to play a prominent and influential role in the growth of our economy, the creation of employment and the transformation of society.

“During the State of the Nation Address earlier this month, we outlined some of the key priorities of government for the year. One of these is land reform. This issue is critical, emotive and very sensitive. 

“Land dispossession is a defining feature of colonialism and apartheid in South Africa,” he said.

The President said land hunger among black South Africans is genuine and pressing. 

“The time has arrived that we act decisively to resolve this matter. We must repair the damage inflicted upon our people. As part of the measures to accelerate land redistribution, the 54th National Conference of the ANC resolved that where appropriate and justifiable, land will be expropriated without compensation.

“The programme of land reform must have clear targets and timeframes, be guided by sound legal and economic principles, and must contribute to the country’s overall job creation and investment objectives,” he said.

New dawn to usher in an era of agricultural revolution 

The President said, meanwhile, that government was committed to working closely with traditional leaders in the area of agriculture.

He said by providing more land to more producers for cultivation, and by providing the necessary support, government would be laying the foundation for an agricultural revolution.

“We are determined to work with traditional leaders to significantly expand agriculture not only to ensure food security, but also to create jobs on a significant scale and increase the value of our exports.

“We also want to build partnerships with traditional leaders to tackle the challenge of youth unemployment,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said government needs to create opportunities for young people in rural areas – whether through education, internships, learnerships or employment.

He said government will not succeed in developing rural areas if skilled young people migrate to big cities.

“Among other things, this means that we need to make agriculture an attractive and viable career for young people.

“We need to improve and properly resource TVET colleges and other training institutions in rural areas.

“We need to identify investment opportunities in small towns and rural areas and ensure that we use local suppliers and labour when building infrastructure like roads, dams, energy projects, schools and clinics,” he said.

Mining Ministry to consult communities on Mining Charter 

The President, as he indicated when he delivered the State of the Nation Address two weeks ago, said government is committed to engagement with all stakeholders in finalising a new version of the Mining Charter.

He said it is critical that affected communities are represented in these engagements and that the Charter, when finalised, effectively addresses their needs and interests.

“We trust that traditional leaders in these areas are integral part of the process and facilitate the involvement of communities in deliberations with government, unions and industry representatives.

“As government, we remain committed to work with this House and all South Africans to restore the dignity and integrity of the institution of royalty in South Africa,” he said. 

Government to deal with initiation deaths 

The President said government has drafted the Customary Initiation Bill to regulate cultural practice in light of fatalities, injuries and mismanagement of the customary practice of initiation.

“We need to deal decisively with the deaths that take place in the customary initiation schools. 

“Parents take children to initiation schools as a rite of passage but some come back with physical and psychological scars that can remain with them for the rest of their lives.

“Even more tragic, some of our children do not return to their families,” he said.

He said government needs to understand why “our interventions to date have not as yet yielded the outcomes we seek and explore better ways to stop the deaths and injuries”.

Condolences to Ngcobo families 

Meanwhile, the President has sent condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during the recent stand-off between police and gun-wielding suspects in Ngcobo.

“We meet here in the immediate aftermath of a great tragedy that has struck the community of eNgcobo.

“We extend our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.

“We call on traditional leaders and the community of Engcobo to stand together to defeat crime, social discord and the misappropriation of religion.” – SAnews.gov.za

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