Interim CEO for beleaguered Land Bank

ON 18 JULY, Finance minister Trevor Manuel seconded the appointment of Phakamani Hadebe to head up the Land Bank.
Issue date : 01 August 2008

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on 18 JULY, Finance minister Trevor Manuel seconded the appointment of Phakamani Hadebe to head up the Land Bank. Hadebe, who holds two Masters degrees in economics, is currently the head of the asset and liability management division at the National Treasury.

President Thabo Mbeki recently gave the administrative powers of the agricultural finance house to Manuel and the This drastic move followed several months of mismanagement and financial troubles at the bank during which two CEOs and a chairperson were axed by agriculture minister Lulama Xingwana.

T he bank was moved from the finance department to the agriculture and land affairs department in 1997. The change in management was criticised as opening up the bank for political misuse. A ccording to Manuel, Hadebe was appointed because of his good knowledge of the markets. In interviews with Sunday newspapers following the appointment, also emphasised the importance of trust at an institution like the Land Bank.

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“The most important thing in a financial institution is a question of trust,” he said. “If I don’t have trust in the board, and the board does not have trust in the senior management employed at the institution, then you can’t run the institution. It is as elementary as that.” n the meantime, Xingwana has admitted that she lacked the expertise to manage the Land Bank. – Drieka Burger

Dowry’s future is uncertain

The ANC’s axing of Western Cape premier Ibrahim Rasool raises questions about the future of Cobus Dowry, the agriculture minister in the Western Cape. “All we know is what we read in the newspapers, so one can only speculate,” said Dowry’s spokesperson Attie van Jaarsveld. “Everyone in Western Cape politics must wait and see what the ANC decides on a national level.” Gerhard van Rensburg, the Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesperson for agriculture in the Western Cape, was less diplomatic about Dowry’s future. “He is a and Mbeki follower and as such will be tolerated for now,” he said. “But he won’t be high enough on the party candidate list to vote for in the coming election.” V an Rensburg is confident that the DA, with or without coalition partners, will win the next election. “I’m currently working on an agricultural policy,” he told Farmer’s Weekly. – Wouter Kriel

‘Producers have had enough’ – Free State MPO chair

“The time has come for milk producers to take the future into their own hands,” said Koos Pienaar, the chairperson of the Milk Producers’ Organisation (MPO) in the Free State. “Too many milk producers still believe the buyers are in charge and will act in their interest,” said Pienaar. “This situation can no longer be tolerated in the light of the drastic decline in producer prices. Buyers’ main concern is profitability and responsibility towards their shareholders.

The producer does not fit into this scenario.” n a preview of his chairperson’s report at the annual Free State MPO congress, he said farmers are prepared to swallow a price reduction of up to 20c/â„“ but are not willing to contribute as little as 1c/â„“ for mechanisms to combat surpluses. “Free State farmers are not prepared to continue producing milk at a loss. We will either cut production or give the milk away. The time has come for solidarity among milk producers and they will be required to work together for the good of the industry and its long-term survival. Otherwise we can expect serious milk shortages and large numbers of farmers leaving the industry.”

 Pienaar also said it’s high time government wakes up to the untapped potential of the country’s agricultural producers. “There’s absolutely no need for SA to import food, given the high international prices and the weak exchange rate. We, as agricultural producers, can feed the country and can even become net exporters of produce.” He said while the rest of Africa yearns for the know-how of the white farmers, local politicians are caught up in ideologies and perceptions. The moment commercial farmers are recognised for what they are – expert food producers and agriculturalists – sustainable food production will be virtually guaranteed. – Annelie Coleman

Eskom’s sigh of relief

Eskom has welcomed THE NATIONAL Treasury’s decision to reduce the disbursement period for a R60 billion loan for its capital expansion programme from five years to three. Government will now disburse the loan in three instalments of R10 billion, R30 billion and R20 billion in 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2010/11 respectively.

 “Eskom welcomes the reduction of the disbursement period, including the willingness to consider providing guarantees to enable the organisation to access funding otherwise unavailable,” said Eskom’s finance director Bongani Nqwababa. “decision recognises the importance of maintaining strong investment-grade credit rating and is a clear indication of the shareholders’ unwavering support in this regard.” N qwababa said this was an important step towards securing the long-term financial sustainability of Eskom and would enhance the organisation’s ability to deliver the large capital expansion programme.

“Ensuring security of supply goes hand-in-hand with financial sustainability,” he said. “Going forward, it is important for the role of regulatory increases and shareholder support to be complementary and predictable, in order to reassure funders and suppliers of the long-term attractiveness of Eskom as a business partner.” – Robyn Joubert