Categories: Vegetables

I told you so!

it gives me no pleasure TO REMIND South African market agents that "I told them so" a few years ago, but it must be said.

When the transformation issue surfaced and BEE was the name of the game, I said to the market agents, in this column, in private and in other writings: “Get your transformation act together now, because if you don’t, government will do it for you. If you do it yourself, you’ll still have some say – once the decree comes from above, you’ll have no option but to comply. It’s better to respond positively now than to wait.”

Apart from the few who understood what I said and those who had already embarked on the process, most market agents chose to ignore my warnings, and voila – it’s now 2010 and we have the Ministerial Interim Committee (MIC) report on the restructuring of fresh-produce markets. The report states that transformation of market agencies has been too slow and speeding up the process is one of the prime objectives of the proposed Fresh Produce Markets Development Agency (FPMDA).

The report says the FPMDA will set minimum transformation requirements for market agencies, and if they don’t comply, they’ll be liable to lose their licences. The report also states: “The MIC notes the importance of addressing transformation on markets and market access. While market authorities have reached acceptable levels in respect of market directors and operational staff from the target groups, transformation within market agencies based on National Fresh Produce Markets has been slow, with substantial work remaining to be done.

“The MIC therefore recommends that the proposed FPMDA drives the transformation process to achieve suitable levels of representivity in market agents’ ownership and in sales force levels.”The first of the four recommendations that follow is that a comprehensive sectoral quota be introduced for market agents, which sounds to me like the FPMDA is going to lay down its own requirements over and above the existing law.

Just as I predicted – you now have to comply because Big Brother says so. Wouldn’t it have been a lot simpler to have complied in the early days?The fourth recommendation ends like this: “Progress in addressing these should be taken into account during the process of renewal of agency licences.”

For those who don’t get the message, that’s bureaucratic speak for, “Comply or you’re out!”A few market agencies have tried to introduce BEE requirements into their businesses – some with success and others without. Unfortunately, it’s a case of “too little too late”. For those who displayed nothing but arrogance towards the system, the sands of time have run out.

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