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SONA 2022: Expropriation and economic growth do not go hand in hand

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“If the government is serious about getting the economy going, they should delete certain provisions of the expropriation bill,” said Francois Wilken, president of Free State Agriculture (FSA).

“The Expropriation Bill, in its current format, contains elements that Free State Agriculture does not support and that can make investors unsure about investments in South Africa that involve any property – even intellectual property!

At the start of his State of the Nation Address on 10 February 2022, President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged that a successful and growing economy is free market driven and is what is needed to create the most jobs. He also made it clear that the task of the state is to create the empowering environment in which the private sector – small as well as large businesses – can grow together.

Free State Agriculture is pleased that key issues to agriculture that we have repeatedly highlighted over the year have been recognized:

– Uncertainty and unnecessary disruption caused by an unreliable power supply network

– The dire state of our country’s rural road infrastructure

– The looting of our national rail network infrastructure

– The bottleneck at our country’s ports that impedes high value exports and perishable agricultural products

– The shortage of rural safety personnel

For too long, the debate on Expropriation without Compensation has deterred investors and has been used as a smokescreen for the looting of our national infrastructure! Whether the president is going to bring the culprits to book as promised, time will tell.

The President reiterated that we as a developing state will continue to drive land reform and transformation. This means that the state will centrally make the plans and try to execute them. The various master plans have been mentioned and the agricultural master plan, signed last year, is being implemented this year. To carry out successful development actions, a close and competent state order is needed, which requires the procurement and support of the grassroots society.

It was emphasized that “an active and involved civil society is crucial for a capable state and for development.” This is where Free State Agriculture will focus on empowering our grassroots structures, the agricultural associations, to participate actively. The agricultural sector can establish the right structures for ground level implementation of joint plans and action, and also fulfil the “watchdog” function to hold the state accountable to their SONA-2022 promises.