Tap into opportunities through partnerships - Joemat-Pettersson

Speech by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to Black Business Council (March 1)

Speech by the Honourable Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Minister: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Republic of South Africa at the launch of the Black Business Council, Gallagher Estate, Midrand

1 Mar 2012

Programme Director,
Chairman of the Black Business Council,
Black Business Executives,
Black Business Professionals,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning! 
Goie more
- This one is for Patrice Motsepe

Being a government Minister is a thankless job. And it is for this reason that it is always a welcome and pleasant surprise when one is invited to address such an august occasion and such distinguished and auspicious guests. The captains of industry are after all not called Randlords for nothing.

It was our founding father and former president Nelson Mandela who was once said: "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner."

In my humble view, the biggest challenge facing this country remains partnerships between black business and white business. And for as long as I have the honour and privilege of being Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, I will make partnerships one of my clarion calls.

So when you call me here to speak to you about opportunities in my sector for black business, I will tell you that the opportunities are many and varied. But most importantly, I will tell you that the best route of tapping into most of these opportunities is through partnerships.

The future of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, indeed the future of food security and wealth creation lies in partnerships between white business and black business. This future lies in the partnerships between small and large business.

Following the Sector Transformation Charter processes in terms of B-BBEE Act 53 of 2003, my department has already formalised partnerships with relevant stakeholders including black business and professionals with an objective of accelerating economic transformation and empowerment in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors.

The transformation charters of the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors are currently at various stages of development and implementation. In terms of the agricultural sector, my department in partnership with all the agricultural sector stakeholders developed the Agricultural Sector Transformation Charter (AgriBEE), which was gazetted as a Section 12 of the B-BBEE Act 53 of 2003 in 2008. This was followed by the appointment of the AgriBEE Charter Council, which is constituted by all major agricultural stakeholders including black constituencies.

As I am speaking to you now, my department together with the AgriBEE Charter Council have already reached an agreement to transform the current Section 12 AgriBEE Charter into Section 9 Sector Codes in terms of BBBEE Act 53 of 2003. The application in this regard has already been submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) for the publication of the draft AgriBEE Sector Codes in the Government Gazette Notice for public comments.

I therefore urge you to "watch the space" and provide your comments. Once the AgriBEE Sector Codes are promulgated for Section 9 (1) Status in terms of the B-BBEE Act, all the stakeholders would be required to comply with the undertakings as captured in the AgriBEE Sector Codes thereby increasing the Black Agricultural Business Entrepreneurs in the country. The stakeholders will have to implement their agreed-undertakings and report compliance thereof on a continuous basis. 

In pursuit of contributing to the acceleration of economic transformation and empowerment towards ensuring the significant participation of black people into the mainstream economy, my department has put aside the AgriBEE Equity Fund, which is geared towards increasing black entrepreneurs in the sector.

The objective of the fund is to acquire ownership equity for black beneficiaries in white commercial agricultural businesses. The scope of the fund also covers the funding of qualifying enterprise development initiatives, which are targeted at creating economic access and participation for black people in the agricultural sector.

Currently, the department has entered into an agreement with the Land Bank, as an external agency to manage and administer the AgriBEE fund. The Land Bank is seen as a strategic partner within its position with Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as a development bank in the agriculture sector. 

With regard to the forestry sector, my department in partnership with all the forestry sector stakeholders have already gazetted the Forest Sector Charter in 2009 with the status of Section 9(1) in terms of the B-BBEE Act 53 of 2003. This was followed by the appointment of Forest Sector Charter Council members who are the representatives of key governments as well as both black and white business communities. The Section nine status of the Forest Sector Codes makes transformation binding on all the stakeholders within the Forest Sector.

Currently, in partnership with my department, the Forest Sector Charter Council is working on the development of a funding scheme for Black Forest Growers. A concept document for the funding scheme has already been developed. Possible partners to the funding scheme for forest growers are Development Financial Institutions such as the Industrial Development Corporation, the National Empowerment Fund, etc. The process of consultations is on-going and the Charter Council is coordinating the activity. 

In terms of the Fisheries Sector's Transformation there is currently no Transformation Charter/Framework which can guide transformation of the sector. The allocation of quotas and the implementation of the Fisheries policies are the frameworks through which transformation is currently being implemented. My department is currently in process of developing the Transformation Framework for Fisheries Sector and this process would only be achieved with the partnership of the Fisheries Sector Business Community.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to strongly assure you that the institutionalisation of the Forest Sector Charter Council and the AgriBEE Charter Council are based on the partnerships between my government department and all the sectors' stakeholders with black constituencies being part of the equation.

Black Business' interests are represented within both the Forest Sector Charter Council and AgriBEE Charter Council. Nominated members from Black Business constituencies serve in the Councils and these members also coordinate and participate actively in the work activities of the Charter Councils.

In the Forest Sector Charter Council, Black Business representation is from the smallholder forest growers and the saw milling industry. In the Agricultural Sector, Black Business representation is from the Union structures.

Both the Forest Sector Charter Council and the AgriBEE Charter Council are functioning. Both my department and the Businesses are contributing to the budget and operations for the two Charter Councils. This is a clear indication of healthy partnerships between my department and the Sectors' Business Communities.

But to take advantage of these opportunities, government can only create a framework, and these charters are but just a framework. What you need to do as black businesspeople, as businesspeople, is to find like-minded white partners, who also need black partners to take advantage of this framework. Partnerships are answer, dare I say, the only answer.

Let us once and for all bury the thought that the future of this country is either black without white or white insulated from black. White business cannot survive for too long if it shuts black business out, but black business must also realise that for quicker success, it needs to tap into the expertise and experience of white business.

This is not to say white business is better than black business. This is simply to say, the privilege that white business has, was engineered and institutionalised for many years in exclusion of blacks. Tapping into it, is the only way of reversing the ills of the past and creating a South Africa that will bare more fruit for more - in partnership, not in exclusion.

Ladies and gentlemen, my department is willing to maintain and strengthen the current partnership with both the Black and White Business Communities as well as formalise other partnerships in order to ensure significant acceleration of economic transformation and empowerment as informed by the South African Government Transformation Agenda. Please meet me half way by reaching out to one another.

I thank you!

Issued by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, March 1 2012

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