Organised agriculture questions KZN job plan

Organised agriculture in KwaZulu-Natal has questioned where the money will come from to fulfil an ambitious plan by the KZN Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs (DAEA) to create 28 000 new jobs during the 2012/2013 financial year.

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The KZN Agricultural Union said that the KZN DAEA is already struggling to meet its mandated core business focuses.
“It’s a wonderful announcement that the department intends to create 28 000 new jobs, but how can it achieve this when it’s already struggling to find the money to run existing programmes, such as the provision of fencing in rural areas,” said Kwanalu CEO, Sandy la Marque. “It shouldn’t be the department’s role to create jobs but rather to create a suitable environment for the private agricultural sector to provide jobs.”

While the campaign to create the 28 000 jobs has not yet been formally launched, a document in Farmer’s Weekly’s possession explained that the KZN DAEA intended recruiting and empowering youth, women, and people living with disabilities to clear invasive plants, rehabilitate eroded areas, and help improve environmental management in KZN.

“Sixty people would be employed per iNkosi [traditional leader] and this would contribute towards a departmental target of 28 000 for the 2012/2013 financial year. All appointed participants shall be appointed and employed according to Expanded Public Works Programme guidelines,” the document stated.

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A draft policy framework on this job creation plan explained that although many of these jobs would be of a temporary nature, it was hoped that the skills gained by the selected employees would make them more employable and self-sufficient in the future. Mike Mlengana, president of the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa, while keen on the programme, was doubtful of its sustainability based on what he had read in the draft policy framework.

‘This is a very wishy-washy document. Many of the goals it highlights are very complex and require complex solutions. Does the department have the capacity to identify these potential solutions and to measure the impact of this programme? Why doesn’t the department come to people like us who are experienced in working at grass roots for advice and assistance?” Mlengana said.

Kwanalu, while reiterating its support for the targets behind the programme, was concerned that the expectations created might not be met. “It’s not only about the sustainability of the jobs to be created, but also about the tools needed to effectively implement these jobs,” La Marque said.