Former Congress of South African Trade Union general secretary, Jay Naidoo, has in his own opinion described the nation’s agri sector as the key to handling rising unemployment.
Naidoo who is also a one-time minister of Post, Telecommunications and Broadcasting (1996–1999), said the agricultural sector is key to creating the millions of jobs needed in South Africa.
Speaking on the need to revamp the SA economy, Naidoo pointed out that politicians can’t kick-start the economy, no matter their promises to the contrary.
According to him, economic growth and improved employment measures can only be achieved when we all have address our ways of thinking.
To him, people ought to grow their own food, produce useful goods and then use the latter to generate an income.
“Why I think land is so important, that land is a fundamental issue of dispossession. But it is also the foundation of citizenship.”
Naidoo is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Partnership Council of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) headquartered in Geneva.
He said that unemployment will decrease only when the South African government focuses on creating self-sustaining local economies.
The agri sector, forestry and fisheries are crucial to South Africa’s socio-economic development.
However, this sector has suffered much failures due to critical issues such as climate change, population growth, skills shortages, changes in consumer needs and shifts in the global economy and related markets.
While the primary agri sector contributes about 3% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), it represents about 7% of formal employment. If gov’t checks the entire value chain of agriculture, its contribution to GDP reaches about 12%.
The former also stated that improving the SA economy does not lie only in giving people land but also lies on dealing with the barriers preventing small farmers from achieving success.
Tackling SA’s Crisis Not in Zuma Stepping Down
Speaking further on the issues affecting the country, Naidoo said that while South Africa is in, “crisis,” the country’s leaders and politicians should focus on improving the lives of citizens rather than calling on President Jacob Zuma to step down.
He accused leaders and politicians of being more interested in making a political noise about the president, than doing painstaking work at the grass-roots level.
“So what happens if he resigns today? Do you think the situations of people in villages, informal settlements, young people in schools denied of a proper education is going to change?”
In Naidoo’s view, moral and political crises, at all levels of government, are depriving citizens of their most basic rights, including access to water, health care and quality education
He said that his concern lies in the issues faced by the country and how politicians and citizens were not adjusting to the demands of the 21st century.
He however reiterate the need for citizens to create work and income for themselves so that the country would survive.