Debate on the 2019 Appropriations Bill by Cde Dipuo Peters (MP) in the National Assembly

23 July 2019

Honourable Speaker we salute the Hero of the People, Solomon Mahlangu and pledge our loyalty to the cause for which he so bravely perished. We salute and pay tribute to the many heroes and heroines of our country who have laid down their lives in our struggle for liberation.

We extend our greetings to the leaders and activists of the democratic movement who, despite arrests, detention, and every form of persecution by the enemy, have stood firm and persisted in the common struggle to defeat and destroy the racist regime.

Madam Speaker, the Appropriation Bill or the budget is the single biggest instrument that needs to give confidence and hope to the people of this country that their ANC led government heard their pleas and  requests. The ANC leadership first hand saw and experienced their pain of lack of services and the patience with which they have been waiting for services which reached others but are still to reach many others. ANC in its 2019 Elections Manifesto reconfirmed it’s mission to progressively address the backlogs in essential infrastructure like: water, electricity ,roads and housing and other social services.

The ANC will through this Appropriation Bill reconfirm to the people of Musina, Kuboes, Kommagas, Kakamas,Galeshewe, Pampierstad, Noupoort, GaMopedi, Loopeng, Tosca, Bushbuckridge, Umhlabauyalingana, Harding, Howick, Ndzhelele, Taung ,Harrismith, Worcester, Bonnievale, Thabanchu that gradually your problems are being addressed and that your government puts its money where its mouth is.

In the 107yrs of the ANC’s existence it has never let the people of the RSA down. Yes, go be go nale dikgoreletsi le ngodiego mme maitlhomomagolo e sale ele  go naya baagi botlhe ba Africa Borwa “a better life”. Maikaele ao ke kolagano ya pusho ya ANC le batho.E tlhamilwe ke Rre Mandela a ikaegile ka moano wa Freedom Charter.

En daai ooreenkoms is nie eensydig nie.Tot dat elke gesin van SuidAfrika ‘n dak het en elke kind kan goed lees en skryf en geen swanger vrou sterf as gevolg van geboorte gee dan is die werk nie klaar nie.

We must bring more young people and women into agricultural production thereby creating jobs. The ANC supports the deliberate strategy for youth and women in agriculture building on initiatives that have been undertaken already. Our commitment as the ANC to returning the land to the people stands. We will revive the parliamentary process that begun during the 5th Parliament and conclude the process to clarify the conditions under which expropriation without compensation will take place. As stated by Honourable President Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address indicated that Agriculture is one of those sectors that will contribute towards growing the economy and make contribution towards job creation.

Further stated by Comrade Thoko Didiza (Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development) in her budget speech, addressing the land question and its productive use, will need a meaningful conversation with land owners, be they farmers, companies or trust. We need to be genuine and deliberate in transforming this sector. Historically, black South Africans were excluded from meaningful participation in the agricultural economy. The food value chain remains highly concentrated amongst a few players. This is hardly the basis of building a sustained agriculture economy that serves all. We need to work together to open up the sector, create opportunities for the historically disadvantaged groups, and make a concerted effort in growing the sector on an inclusive basis.

The potential of agriculture in South Africa for job creation and economic growth still remains largely underdeveloped. South Africa still has large areas of underutilized or unproductive land. There are around 250,000 small emerging farmers who are working the land and need support in fully developing their businesses.

Agricultural exports are an important source of revenue for our economy, and developing our agricultural sector is key to enhancing our food security and for attracting investment. South Africa is fortunate to have an agricultural sector that is well-developed, resilient and diversified. ANC Government intend to use it as a solid foundation to help develop agriculture in South Africa for the benefit of all.

In addition, through this Appropriation of public finances, we have a responsibility to revitalise land that was given through restitution of land rights, as well as support famers settled in agricultural state land and those in our 4 communal areas who have acquitted themselves as farmers even where land scarcity remains a challenge. Honourable members, there are legacy issues that will require us to address in relation to restitution and security of tenure for farm workers and farm dwellers. The legacy issues I’m referring to are many. The example of these legacy issues was expressed by Mr BJ Khanyile from KwaZulu-Natal during public comments into the current Appropriation Bill. Mr Khanyile stated that:

“government has distributed farms among the residents of Melmoth in KwaZulu-Natal through the Land Restitution Programme as administered by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. Mr Khanyile expressed concerns that the said farms did not receive any assistance from government even though these were bought at a high cost to the State. He further questioned why the farmers were not offered relevant training by government as the community believes these farms were government assets. He stated that the then Department of Rural Development and Land Reform indicated to them that it did not receive sufficient budget allocations to assist emerging farmers. To this end, he requested that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform be assisted through the budget process in order for it to train the farmers”.

The challenges expressed by Mr Khanyile are just a tip of an iceberg in the challenges faced by emerging farmers. The new Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development needs to relook at funding rules and requirements in the agricultural sector. A lot of potential emerging black farmers are unable to secure government funding because either the spouse or both are government employees. We call upon the Honourable Thoko Didiza to consider these issues in the development policy instruments as she stated:

“Better policy instruments will be developed in order to articulate what form of support will government give in this respect”.

The financing of agriculture remains an important ingredient for farming whether a new entrant or established producer. Currently, the Land and Agriculture Bank of South Africa has a mandate to finance established farmers as well as developing farmers. This is an important mandate; however, we need to reflect seriously whether given the current mandate and the financial environment in which this institution has to operate is it properly capacitated to undertake this task.

The budget on which the Appropriation Bill is based has also made an allocation of R18.4 billion to accelerate land reform over the medium term.  This allocation will help finalise more than 1700 restitution claims and acquire more than 325 000 hectares of land for the poor. As part of the president’s economic stimulus and recovery plan, government working together with organisations representing farmers of different communities will implement 262 priority land-reform projects totalling R1.8 billion. This is programme aimed at ensuring that workers acquire rights and ownership of the land they have worked for decades.

In addition, government has allocated R138 million to help resettled farmers to purchase equipment and develop farms over the medium term.

To further support emerging black farmers, the 2019 Budget introduced a blended-finance model, under the Black Producer Commercialisation Programme, is allocated a further R887 million over the medium term to help them to access finance.

Further, the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Grant is aimed at supporting newly established and emerging farmers, particularly subsistence, small holders and previously disadvantaged farmers. This grant will assist in training, developing agro-processing infrastructure and directly supporting farmers. In an aim to create 450 black commercial farmers over the MTEF period, the 2019 Budget has allocated R5 billion into this grant.

“The quality of living of all South Africans rests on the infrastructure program, which will result in the cultivation of decent work opportunities and strengthen industrialization. It will address the legacy of segregation in the economy and employment that resulted in deep socioeconomic inequalities”. ANC Ready to govern 1992.

South Africans must live closer to where they work, and we must establish industries closer to where people live. It is a travesty that so many people spend so much money and time traveling to and from their jobs. We must also align the provision of housing with other public investments and service provision such as schools and hospitals. In short, we need to integrate economic development, human settlements, smart technologies and public transportation.

Rural development remains key to economic transformation of the poor in rural areas. When productive pieces of land are availed to people this constitutes attractive opportunity for investment. It doesn’t end there; training in financial management and linkage to the markets for the uptake of the produce are the next crucial steps. These are some of the aspects which are lacking to transition the rural economy into the mainstream lucrative economy. The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and the National Treasury needs to spare no effort in uplifting the rural economy with the necessary support that it needs with an intention to restore the dignity and self-sustenance of the communities. The active involvement of the communities will not only lead to much needed rural development but could also in the long run lead to reduction of prices of goods in the market.

We call upon the relevant departments to ensure that the 2019 budget continues to bringing into operation 9 (nine) Rural Economic Zones originally anchored and pursued under the Agri-Park programme. The Agri-Park initiative are meant to catalyse the development of rural areas including integrated human settlements, and making them a hive of economic activity thereby creating jobs, reducing inequality, poverty and unemployment.

The key aim of this initiative is to ensure that our people in the second economy fully participate in the economic value chain including market access. It is also aimed at providing infrastructure and enterprise support to rural economic enterprises and this we believe will serve as a catalyst for the economic development, revitalization and establishment of new rural towns.

President Ramaphosa, in his State of the Nation Address in February, stated that tourism provides our country with “incredible opportunities to, quite literally, shine”. Acknowledging that tourism performs better than many other industries, the President further stated that there is no reason that tourism employment shouldn’t double in size. If the tourism sector continues to grow, adding jobs to the economy as it did in 2016 and 2017, the country will be on its way to meeting the President’s goal 4. In 2017, one in every 22 employed people in South Africa were working in the tourism sector, totalling 722 013 individuals. This represents 4,5% of the 16,2 million people in South Africa’s workforce. About half of those working in the tourism sector were employed by two industries: road passenger transport and the food and beverages servicing industry.

Tourism has an important role to play in placing our economy on a sustainable inclusive growth trajectory. Globally, tourism has demonstrated a higher growth rate than any other sector, with arrivals in emerging economies up to 2030 projected to grow at double the rate of advanced economies. Locally, the growth of the tourism sector has been a boon for our economy. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the 2018 contribution of the tourism sector in South Africa, directly accounted for 2.8% of real GDP, which amounts to R139 billion and this is projected to grow to R145, 3 billion for 2019. The indirect contribution of the tourism sector to our economy’s GDP in 2018 stood at an even higher 8.2%, which captures the strong economic links to the demand and supply side that the sector has with other sectors of the South African economy. In addition, the tourism sector direct employment accounted for 4.2% of total employment in the South African economy in 2018 and this is projected to increase to 709 thousands jobs in 2019, while Tourism’s indirect contribution to total employment stood at 9.2% for 2018.

We welcome joint efforts by the Department of Tourism and Home Affairs to remove all obstacles for tourists to enjoy their journey to South Africa. Amongst these positive efforts, the Minister of Tourism during her budget speech reported of the recent visa waiver for Russia and Angola which has had a positive impact on the number of international travellers who graced our shores. President Ramaphosa reiterated the need to build a "world-class visa regime" as well as give significant focus to key markets that have the potential of boosting our tourism, such as "China, India and arrivals from the rest of our continent". We are also encouraged with the announcement made by the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi that South Africa’s new e-visa system is expected to launch within this financial year. These demonstrates that close collaboration between our departments can lead to a positive economic impact which augurs well with priority of the sixth administration of working together to grow our economy. As the ANC we support and appreciate the added focus the ministers of Home Affairs and Tourism is devoting to the visa regulations without compromising the safety and security of children and women.

For the movement of goods, services and people from the neighboring countries we need to see integrated and well-coordinated Border Management Systems. The long ques at Beitbridge is actually a deterrent to ease of movement of people from the-our neighbors and restrict regional integration. The ANC is concerned that while the Passenger Railway of South Africa rolling stock was ageing and experiencing higher maintenance cost challenges, earmarked funds are being taken away from its capital projects and the New Locomotives programme to fund the South African Road Agency. 

As we anticipate an increase in foreign tourist arrivals, we are aware that their primary concerns are safety and security. The ANC notes that the Department of Tourism is at an advanced stage of developing the National Tourism Safety strategy working with the SAPS, provinces, local government and members of the sector. Ultimate safety remains a major part of the decision making process when travellers choose a destination. The ANC led government is determined to ensure that tourists who come to our country are safe.

The base line reductions experienced by departments and government as a whole are as a result of the constrained fiscus and sustained poor performance of the South African economy. The journey to economic recovery will not be easy but working together, we can grow our economy. The Budget presents a roadmap to maintaining the integrity of our public finances, while protecting social services. The Budget is creating the right environment for efforts to accelerate inclusive growth, significantly increasing levels of investment and putting in place measures to create more jobs. It is in line with a range of measures introduced to ignite economic activity, restore investor confidence, support employment and address the urgent challenges that affect the lives of vulnerable members of our society. Just as Martin Luther King Jr:

 “We are not where we want to be, and not where we were going to be, but we sure are a long way from where we were.”

I thank you.