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Nation in Conversation – The Politics of Food

  • 18 May 2016
  • 1931
  •  Nation in Conversation
  •  nampo-2016

Mpumelelo Mkhabela, former editor of the Sowetan; Prince Mashele, Political Analyst; Joe Maswanganyi, Senwes Group Executive; and Prof Mzukisi Qobo, Political Risk Analyst, got their teeth stuck into this meaty topic where the conclusion was unanimous that “we need to move away from an ‘us and them mentality’ and realise that food security affects us all. If government continues to alienate farmers with unsustainable policies, and farmers continue to look at workers and black farmers as different entities to themselves, both parties end up losing,” said Prince Mashele.
Prof Qoba said there was a “tension between government and Agribusiness and commercial farmers. We have a situation where both parties lack leadership and they end up being at each other’s throats.”
Prince added that “you can’t just give people land. Does Julius Malema and the EFF know where the oil came from in which they cooked their bacon this morning? If you just gave people land without a support package that included training, financial aid and skills in all aspects of the business, the land will become unproductive and the entire country would end up starving.”
Joe waded into the debate saying that government departments needed to be more aligned. “We are often faced with conflicting statements from different government departments which creates confusion and fear in the market. And once you have that scenario you have the effects of for example the exchange rate which leads to lack of investment and an increase in food prices, which all adds to the threat of food security.”
Joe added that government should be making policies geared towards the sustainability of food security.
Prince reminded the panel of what happened in Zimbabwe when profitable farms were reduced to wasteland due to bad management and has seen Zimbabwe go from Africa’s food basket to Africa’s basket case.
The panel also touched on farm labour and how it affects both the farmer and his worker. Prof Qobo said that South Africa had a history of terrible farm labour practises and bad remuneration. He said that workers’ wages were eroded by travelling costs and the high cost of living, while on the other hand, “labour costs were one of the biggest issues for the farmer in terms of running his business.” 
Here too was an opportunity for the two entities to have real dialogue from the point of view of finding a sustainable solution for both parties and ensure food security.
“Which is why discussion platforms like Nation in Conversation is vital,” concluded Joe.

Visit the Nation in Conversation website. Download the Nation in Conversation App from the various App stores and join in the conversation live in real time. Watch all the episodes on Youtube and check the website for the broadcast times of the episodes on the different television networks. Also follow the discussion on Twitter @nationconverse and check out our regular posts on our Facebook page and Instagram 

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