While I welcome Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni’s efforts to support the Land Bank to conclude transactions worth R16,2 billion over the next 3 to 5 years, his commitments to job-creation in agriculture are vague at best.
Mboweni stated that: “a significant portion of the funding will go towards export-oriented crops that are highly labour-intensive”. If this is the case, Mboweni should commit to increasing the budget allocation to the Western Cape province from which 22% of the national agriculture GDP is generated. Under a high growth scenario, Western Cape agriculture’s gross value addition contribution is estimated to increase by 126%, to R26-billion in 2019.
The Western Cape is South Africa’s bread basket. If Minister Mboweni is aware of this, he must pledge a greater budget allocation to the province for agriculture. Questions must be raised as to how Minister Mboweni intends to grow agricultural jobs when the Western Cape, the country’s largest contributor to agriculture, is on the receiving end of systemic budget cuts.
Furthermore, Minister Mboweni has said nothing on the mechanisation and digitisation of the Western Cape’s agricultural sector. Increasing labour-intensive employment may create jobs, but most of these are only seasonal and will soon become obsolete.
Labour-intensive agricultural practices are being overtaken by machines. Minister Mboweni has not taken into account the transformation of this sector in preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a process well underway in the Western Cape.
Minister Mboweni also stated: “A combination of policy certainty, growth-enabling economic reforms, improved governance, and partnerships with business and labour will be key to restoring confidence and investment”. Again, this statement does not mention the severe policy uncertainty on the land issue which continues to drive investment from our country. There is no policy certainty on key issues which investors consider before investing in South Africa.
Minister Mboweni’s Medium-Term Budget statement is nothing more than an attempt to create a façade for an ailing national government under the ANC. This vague budget statement only seeks to divert attention away from the ANC long enough for the party to limp slowly to the polls in 2019.