Contribution made by UDM Member of Parliament, Mr ML Filtane, in the National Assembly

Honourable Chairperson
Minister and Deputy Minister
Honourable Members

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) makes the following contribution to this important debate and subject.

In the previous term the department achieved very little in so far as its core business is concerned. We are talking about the business of, amongst others.

• Ensuring food security for all the citizens of the country especially through agriculture and fisheries and indirectly through forestation. Statistics South Africa reported in August 2013; that 21.5% of people suffered severe inadequate access to food as of 2012. In the Eastern Cape that figure translated to 1.3 million people out of 6.2 million as at that time. 11% or 5.6 million SA citizens actually experience hunger as we speak.

The department is mired in institutional operational and policy related problems. To compound the situation, it has a totally new ministry; consequently it is failing to deliver on its mandate. This has left the door wide open for established practitioners in farming, fisheries and forestry to just maintain the status quo.

The charters are not being operationalised. Currently more than half of all smallholder households live below the poverty line. How can they produce food for anyone then if they themselves are starving?

The department is unable to prevent the exploitation of marine reserves. Rich export markets can only be accessed by those with expert industry knowledge, none of these has been produced yet by the department. Timber products are exported with hardly any consideration for supporting local economic development initiatives, not even those supported by government itself. The Baziya Forests in the EC are a typical example here. In Baziya afforested land is the subject of a validated claim but the claimants are not benefitting in anyway, be it jobs, rent or products and the company running the forest is enjoying a recently renewed lease for another 60 years. This department is folding its arms, helpless in the meantime.

The fiasco in fisheries permits is well documented and published, no solution yet, jut plans by the new minister. The department has neither bold/robust nor radical plans to change the situation.

The EC has all the potential to be the food basket of South Africa but the Ncera farms programmes has collapsed right under the watchful but ineffective management of the department. It is facing either closure or transformation when either of those happens momentum is sure to be lost.

The UDM responds and recommends:

• Stop planning too long the past 5 years are enough, start implementing, even bit by bit. Fund communities in afforestation.
• Implement your charters and thus create jobs for the surrounding and interested communities.
• Fast track partnerships between community-based co-operatives and the well established practitioners and appoint dedicated mentors for at least 2 years, where it is not possible to have partnerships.
• Make sure that all your programmes are developmental and food productive in nature otherwise there is no social value for money.
• Lastly, ask yourself Hon Minister, Do I have the right mix of entities and do the current one speak with one voice that of addressing the core goal of the department.

Thank you