Government – Too many plans, not enough action

Many government projects are excellent ideas. But officials seem incapable of carrying them out.

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The Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative is, I believe, a brilliant idea. Chaired by President Jacob Zuma, it seeks to ensure the speedy implementation of agricultural and rural development projects through public-private partnerships.  The problem is that it is not being carried out properly, and in this respect it is similar to many other government programmes.

Even the ANC has admitted this. ANC economic cluster chairperson Enoch Godongwana recently commented that South Africa has many sound agricultural policies in place, but their implementation falls short. African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (Afasa) general secretary Aggrey Mahanjana blames the problem on lack of co-ordination.

He claims that there is little communication between the departments or state-owned entities running government programmes. One of the results of this is that many of these end up working in parallel with each other. For example, the department of agriculture has its own programmes for poverty alleviation, while the department of social development runs similar programmes with the same objective.

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By contrast, the Limpopo Nguni-Angus cattle project, a public-private partnership, is proving successful. Under this project, 94 Nguni-Angus weaner crosses from emerging farmers in Limpopo were sent to the Beefcor feedlot to be fattened and slaughtered before being supplied to Pick ’n Pay supermarkets.

The weaners were fattened according to the Certified South African Angus Beef (CSAAB) protocol and will qualify for entry to the CSAAB programme. The meat will be sold under the CSAAB label. This is the only beef breed in South Africa that has its own label. For any emerging farmer to be part of this programme is a milestone.

The original project was launched in 2007 by the IDC when it purchased pregnant Nguni cows for distribution to emerging farmers in Limpopo. The intention was to preserve the Nguni breed in rural Limpopo. However, by 2011 the majority of these farmers could see that their breed was not fetching prices as high as those of other breeds. It was at this point that the Angus Breeders of SA, ARC,

Pick n Pay and Beefcor became involved, and the Nguni-Angus cattle project was born. If the almost R1,3 billion needed to kick-start the Masibambisane project is released this year, much more could be achieved. Unfortunately, the project has already attracted so much negativity that it has instilled doubt in everybody’s minds. And this scepticism has now spread to the stakeholders, who should be supporting the project to the hilt.

The reasons are not hard to find. The deputy chairperson of the Masibambisane initiative, Sibusiso Mzobe, who also happens to be President Jacob Zuma’s cousin, has recently been awarded a multi-million rand construction contract for a new town at Nkandla.Former ANC Youth League president, Julius Malema called it the ‘Hollywood of Nkandla’. No wonder people have their doubts about this and other projects.