Sugar Industry Regulations proposed amendments: DTI & stakeholders; Debt Relief Committee Bill: adoption for comment

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Trade and Industry

10 November 2017
Chairperson: Ms J Fubbs (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee considered the Committee Bill dealing with Debt Relief and moved to adopt it and have it prepared for public comment. The DA abstained from having the Bill published.

The Committee received briefings from the South African Sugar Association (SASA), South African Cane Growers Association (SACGA), the South African Sugar Millers’ Association (SASMA), South African Farmers Development Association (SAFDA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in an attempt to resolve the dispute in the sugar sector which was previously presented by SAFDA. The Committee was informed that DTI was involved for some time in trying to find a mediated settlement between SAFDA and SACGA. Despite the intervention of a skilled mediator, SACGA refused to relinquish its dominance, rejecting DTI’s suggestion of a 50/50 split between the two associations, even though an ideal solution was the formation of one federation equally representing all interests. DTI indicated that it would continue to try to resolve the dispute.

SASA highlighted that the Sugar Act only recognised two members, SACGA and SASMA, and was awaiting a decision from SACGA on a way forward. SACGA stated that it welcomed change and believed that “SAFDA was an anarchist who sought to destroy the federation”. SACGA informed the Committee that it had done a lot in the transformation of the federation and the industry. It also claimed that allowing the two federations to continue to exist would see the industry reverting to the racial divisions of the past.

The Committee, however, was not of the view that SACGA was fully transformed. Committee Members noted concerns with the lack of black people in the management structure of the federation, and instructed DTI to conduct a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) review on the federation. Committee Members were concerned that SACGA was an association comprising of 1 900 white members vis-à-vis 18 000 black members, but the leadership and management structure was 100% white.

The G6 Small Scale Cane Growers’ Association indicated that it was not represented by SAFDA and asked to be considered for recognition as a third legitimate growers’ association. It stated that it supported SACGA because it was an old structure under which it was serving.

SAFDA told the Committee that they left SACGA because it was not a transformed organisation and did not represent SAFDA’s interests. “When other industries transformed post-1994, the sugar industry was left behind”.

The Chairperson urged DTI to be firm in its approach in dealing with the industry, and to do a Broad-Based, Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) verification/audit of SACGA’s leadership and membership to determine the extent of black farmers’ representation in the organisation. This was after SAFDA made it clear that although SACGA had thousands of black growers as members, few actively participated in the administration and management of the organisation. The Committee emphasised the need for transformation and said that black and small-scale farmers’ interests needed be acknowledged and pursued.

The Committee further resolved that levies paid by SAFDA members would be suspended by SASA and not paid over to SACGA with immediate effect. DTI recommended that SASA make amendments to its constitution to ensure that SAFDA was recognised as a player in the sugar industry and then report back to the Committee before the National Assembly (NA) sitting at the end of November 2017. Failure to do so would see DTI, with the support of the Committee, dissolving SASA’s constitution until the Sugar Act was amended.

The Committee further indicated that it would consider requesting the Speaker of Parliament to approve an oversight visit on the sugar industry. The Committee said that the Sugar Act of 1978, amended in 1992, was outdated and was exploited to maintain the status quo. The Committee also decided to request the Portfolio Committee on Labour to consider working conditions in the sugar industry. The Committee emphasised that this work needed to be done before the end of the year, as poor people were suffering.

Meeting report

Opening remarks

The Chairperson said that the position of the Committee on the Debt Relief Bill would be taken before the end of the meeting. The Committee was almost at the end of the calendar year of Parliament and could not carry the Bill over.

Mr D Macpherson (DA) asked for clarity on whether the Chairperson was saying that the Committee would be putting the Committee Bill for publication that same day, and asked when the Bill would be open for public comment.

The Chairperson said that the Committee was not adopting the Bill. The Committee would be acting on an agreed process that the Committee Bill be open for public comment after 28 November 2017, and run until 15 January 2018.

Mr Macpherson said that mid-December was a busy time for the retail sector and asked that the Committee consider making the public comment period toward the end of January 2018.

Mr A Williams (ANC) said that the Committee should follow protocol and move in the direction of adopting the Bill.

Debt Relief Committee Bill: approval

Adv Charmaine van der Merwe, Legal Adviser, Parliament, said that there were three main articles outstanding. The first related to the amount in the criteria on the income of individuals – section 88A(1)(a). The question from Ms Ntlangwini was how R7 500 was calculated. Adv van der Merwe said that they relied on information from National Treasury, and NT emerged with that as the average amount of most South Africans.

Ms Ntlangwini said that she did not know how the Committee would address that issue, and how they would include public servants to be considered for debt review.

Mr Williams said that he agreed with Ms Ntlangwini and that the figure (R7 500) came in a peculiar manner that debt councilors said that people earning below R7 500 would not be able to go through the debt counseling process. He said that the Committee should release that amount and then in the public hearing process people could justify why the figure should be lifted higher than the current amount.

Adv van der Merwe said that the second issue related to limiting the debt intervention applicant’s right to apply for credit. There was an insertion of Section 82A in Act 34 of 2005 stating that “National Credit Regulator (NCR) to suspend reckless credit agreement”. If a credit provider during an assessment contemplated in Section 81 (2) reasonably suspected any credit agreement included in that assessment of being a reckless credit agreement, then the credit provider should report that suspected reckless credit agreement to the NCR. The limitation on the debt intervention applicant’s right to apply for credit could not exceed;

  1. 12 months after the expiry of the period contemplated in subsection (2)(c);
  2. 24 months after the suspension contemplated in subsection (3) had lapsed where the debt was not extinguished, or;
  3. 36 months after the extinguishing of debt contemplated in subsection (4).

When the National Credit Tribunal (NCT) made an order, it had discretion. She drafted possible clauses dealing with discretion of the Tribunal. A debt intervention applicant who was granted an order contemplated in section 88C (2)(c), (e) or a combination including either order, may in the prescribed manner apply to the NCR for a rehabilitation order to be granted by the Tribunal. Provided that the debt intervention applicant submitted proof that he or she had fulfilled the obligations that were due on the date of the application for the debt intervention, under each credit agreement affected by that order, by payment in full to the credit provider of the value of such obligations plus interest on that amount at the prescribed rate from the date of the applications; or entering into an agreement with the relevant credit provider to the effect that the value of such obligations  plus interest on that amount at the prescribed rate from the date of the application was fulfilled to the satisfaction of the credit provider.

She said that the application for a rehabilitation order must be supported by the following:

  • a letter from the credit provider affected by an order;
  • receipt of the payment in full contemplated in subsection (2)(a) or that an agreement was entered into or that the debt intervention applicant notified the credit provider in writing of his or her intent to apply for a rehabilitation order in the prescribed manner;
  • proof of debt intervention applicants’ income and expenses;
  • a set out of all assets owned by the debt intervention applicant; and
  • such information as the Minister may prescribe.

She said that the Minister may prescribe a debt intervention measure to alleviate household debt in accordance with Section 88F (1) read with section 171. Section 88F (1)(c) affected any of the groups of persons referred to in subsection (3) in such a way that no efficient or effective method to alleviate household debt was available to them. Debt intervention measures contemplated in subsection (1) may only benefit one or more of the following persons:

  • indigent persons;
  • persons with income less than R7 500, which includes disabled persons, minors heading a household, and women heading a household;
  • persons who suffered unforeseen loss of income due to mass retrenchments; or
  • a person subject to adverse conditions in a sector or region identified by the Minister.

There was an insertion of subsection (1)(a) in Section 106 of the Principal Act. It stated, “Where the term of agreement exceeds six months and the principle debt does not exceed R50 000, the affected credit provider and consumer must enter into credit life insurance duration of the term of that credit agreement not exceeding, at any time during the life of the credit agreement, the total of the consumer’s outstanding obligations to the credit provider in terms of that credit agreement”.

The substitution for subsection (8) of the following subsection:

“(8)(a) The Minister may, in consultation with the Minister of Finance, prescribe the limit in respect of the cost of credit life insurance that a credit provider may charge a customer.

(b) The Minister must, in consultation with the Minister of Finance, prescribe the limit in respect of the cost of credit life insurance contemplated in subsection (1A) that a credit provider may charge a consumer.”

Intentionally submitting false information in an application for the debt intervention, or presenting information in an application for the debt intervention in a manner that was intended to mislead the NCR or Tribunal was an offence.  Any person who deliberately altered his or her financial circumstances in order to qualify for the debt intervention was guilty of an offence.

A credit provider who participated in an unlawful credit marketing practice contemplated in Section 74 (2) and (3), 75 (1) or Section 91; did not comply with the limitations to entering into a credit agreement at a private dwelling contemplated in Section 75 (2); did not comply with the limitations related to visiting or entering a credit agreement at a person’s place of employment contemplated in Section 75 (3); failed to comply with Section 81 (3) by entering into a reckless credit agreement with a prospective consumer; entered into an unlawful agreement contemplated in section 89 (2) with a prospective consumer; or offered or demanded that a consumer purchase or maintain insurance that was unreasonable, at an unreasonable cost, or to cover a risk that reasonably could not arise in respect of that consumer as contemplated in section 106 (2)(a), (b), or (c) respectively was committing an offence.

Discussion

Mr D Macpherson (DA) said that there had to be as little discretion as possible because once they started allowing more discretion, there would be inconsistencies. There had to be a matrix in terms of the amount of debt, numbers of credit agreements in place, and behavior to that point. Someone would fall in for debt intervention based on those categories. If that did not exist, then the NCT would have to discharge the discretionary powers in terms of “who gets what” going forward. Education was none negotiable. There could not be debt relief without education. One of the functions of the NCR was to provide education to the public.

Mr Williams said that he completely disagreed with Mr Macpherson. Discretion was an important part of the Tribunals path. Option one was a way to go for. He agreed with Mr Macpherson on the education part.

Ms Mantashe said option one would be the preferred option for the ANC.

The Chairperson asked what Mr Williams view was as the Chair of the Subcommittee on section 88F.

Mr Williams said that he was happy with how the clause was set.

Mr Macpherson said that the Bill was termed and considered as a once off debt measure. The inclusion of Section 88F (c) “Persons who suffered unforeseen loss of income in a sector identified by the Minister by notice of the Gazette as being subject to mass retrenchments” created a huge problem for the Minister because that was what people would see if they were aggrieved with being unqualified. Mr Macpherson asked who asked Adv van der Merwe to insert subsection (c), and he said that it was a bad idea and something that he certainly could not support.

Mr Williams said the Subcommittee thought this would be a good way to extend debt relief to those in need.

The Chairperson said that Mr Macpherson asked who instructed Adv van der Merwe to insert subsection (c) and that she did not want to hear a question about who instructed who.

Mr Macpherson said that he consulted Mr Hill Lewis on this clause and there was no inconsistency on the DA’s position. They could not support it!

The Chairperson said that the publication of the Bill did not mean the adoption the Bill. It was merely opening the Bill up for public comment.

Mr Macpherson said that it could be valuable to get some information from the industry.

The Chairperson asked if the creditor would be obliged by law to get such a letter before an application for rehabilitation was granted.

Mr Williams said that he was not saying that they should amend this, rather that they could also ask for proof of payment.

Mr Macpherson asked what the subsection was trying to achieve, and if the Minister would be subscribing maximum cost to the credit life insurance.

Mr Williams said that the reason for credit insurance was to protect people in debt relief in the future. Credit life insurance for everyone needed to go down.

Mr Macpherson said that he was not sure if it read that way.

Adv van der Merwe said that there was discretion in offering credit life insurance.

The Chairperson asked how Adv van der Merwe established intent.

Adv van der Merwe said that intent was determined by looking at the applicant’s income and expenses; a set out of all assets owned by the debt intervention applicant; and such information as prescribed by the Minister.

Mr Williams said that “improve my financial position” should change to “manage my financial position better”. He said that as the Chairperson of the Subcommittee, he thanked Adv van der Merwe for the work she did on the Bill. Were it not for her, the Bill would only be a thought. He said that a letter should also be sent to the Speaker of the National Assembly to thank her for allowing Adv van der Merwe to work with the Committee on the Bill.

Mr Macpherson said that the DA would be abstaining from having the Bill published.

Ms Mantashe said that the ANC was for the publication of the Bill.

Ms N Ntlangwini said that the EFF seconded the proposal to have the Bill published.

Sugar Industry Regulations proposed amendments: briefing by Department of Trade and Industry

Mr Lionel October, DTI Director-General, said that the sugar industry was a very important industry in the sector. The industry produced 14.8 million tons of sugarcane. There were 21 889 registered cane growers of which 20 562 were black small-scale cane growers. Large scale cane growers were 1 327 of which 323 were black. 10.3% of the total sugar production was supplied by small scale growers. There were six milling companies owning 14 sugar mills, and five refineries manufacturing white sugar.

He said that the South African Sugar Association (SASA) functioned autonomously and operated free from government control. SASA was governed by a council, and had a 50/50 representation by South African Sugar Millers Association (SASMA) and South African Cane Growers Association (SACGA). SACGA represented all cane growers, and SASMA represented all millers and refiners. SASA owed its existence to government legislation. The sugar industry was regulated by the Minister. SASA, the cane growers and millers all owed their existence to legislation. South Africa was one of the world’s leading cost competitive producer of high quality sugar, and therefore made important contributions to the South African Economy. There was an argument that South Africa before 1994 was a free market. This was not true. Since 1994, the bulk of blacks were excluded from the industry.

He said that the DTI asked SASA to amend its Constitution to ensure that it recognised SAFDA as a player in the sugar industry and then report back before the National Assembly sitting (NA) at the end of the November 2017. Failure to do so would result in DTI, with the support of the Committee, dissolving SASA’s Constitution until the Sugar Act was amended.

He said that challenges facing the sugar industry were:

  • it was one of the most distorted and volatile commodity markets in the world;
  • sugarcane was not a nationally traded commodity;
  • provision of appropriate and adequate protection to cane growers;
  • increased imports from subsidised global producers;
  • ensuring equitable exposure to the world market by all role-players; and
  • transforming the sugar industry.

With regard to recommendations made by the Portfolio Committee, DTI commenced with the process to review the Sugar Industry Regulations (SIR) including the amendment of the Sugar Industry Agreement (SIA) and SASA Constitution. The objective of reviewing the current legislation was to establish a positive legal position to ensure broad-based representation. DTI was undertaking amendments to the SIR in order for SASA to recognise SAFDA and any other grower associations in the sector as legitimate members in the industry. In accordance to the new amended regulations, SASA would also ensure access of levies to SAFDA and others in support of their operations, production efficiency, sustainability, and ability to supply and respond to market needs based on the proposed amendments.

He said that the DTI was awaiting legal opinion on potential risks associated with the process to effect changes to regulations. All inputs received were forwarded to the DTI legal team to effect the changes in the regulations and follow due process to finalization.

South African Sugar Association (SASA) comment

Mr Suresh Naidoo, Chairman, SASA, said that some of the statutory functions of SASA included:

  • to administer and facilitate compliance to the Sugar Act, Sugar Industry Agreement, and the SASA Constitution;
  • to manage the pest and disease function and undertake research and develop technology for improved industry biosecurity;
  • to conduct cane testing services;
  • to use statutory formula to determine the minimum cane price to be paid to all growers;
  • to manage industry financing arrangements;
  • to undertake marketing and logistics related to the export sale of South Africa’s bulk raw sugar;
  • to manage support services and facilitate the provision of development finance to small scale growers; and
  • to establish the Sugar Industry Administration Board and the Sugar Industry Appeals Tribunal.

He said that in terms of engagements, SASA was approached by SAFDA for recognition within its structures. SAFDA also approached SASA to have the levies paid by its members to SACGA to be refunded. SASA tried to mediate a solution between SAFDA and SACGA but they were unable to reach a conclusion.

Mr Hans Hackman, Vice-Chairman, SASA, said that the industry was in a dire situation. The introduction of sugar tax was another issue and SASA conducted an analysis to see the effects sugar tax would have on the market. He said that the average industry revenue of SASA was R16 billion per annum with a GDP contribution of 0.7%. Approximately one million rural people depended on the sugar industry for their livelihoods. The industry created 85 000 direct jobs and 350 000 indirect jobs.

Mr Trix Trikam, Executive Director, SASA, said that SASA’s strategic objectives were aligned to the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 and the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy. SASA spent approximately R70 million per annum on support to small scale and land reform growers. He said that the two most significant challenges impacting the sustainability of the sugar industry was the sugar tariff, which was ineffective in protecting the domestic sugar market, and the introduction of the sugar tax on sugar sweetened beverages.

South African Cane Growers Association (SACGA) comment

Adv Moosa said that he was representing his clients, SACGA, to deal with the allegations lodged against them by SAFDA.

The Chairperson said that SACGA was invited and this was not a court case. While guests of the Committee were invited to bring their attorneys with them, they were not allowed to present on behalf of the guest.

Ms Ntlangwini said that Adv Moosa should take the Committee into confidence why he was representing SACGA since the invitation went out to SACGA. She asked what the legal team would say that SACGA could not speak for themselves.

Mr Williams said that sending the lawyers seemed like there was some sort of conflict between them and the Committee whereas it was just an invitation. He was not comfortable.

Ms Theko said that maybe Adv Moosa could advise them if the invitation to SACGA requested that they bring legal representation.

The Chairperson said that the Committee did not summons anyone. The Committee sent an invitation to the entire association led by the Chairman, Mr Graeme Stainbank

The Chairperson said that if SACGA was not ready to engage with the Committee, then the Committee would proceed to engage with the next presenters on the agenda and SACGA could engage with the Committee afterwards. Mr Graeme Stainbank needed to do the presentation, not Adv Moosa.

Mr Stainbank said that he informed the Committee that Adv Moosa would be coming with them, and that it seemed like normal process to have senior counsel represent an organisation in Parliament. It was done in other Committees. Having said that, he was happy to do the talking himself as very little was going to be said by Adv Moosa.

Mr Stainbank said that Adv Moosa was chosen to present before the Committee because a lot of what was said about SACGA was attacking the constitutionality of SACGA and delved into issues of the Constitution. Much like some of the Members of Parliament, he too was not a lawyer, he was a farmer and was therefore not equipped to deal with constitutional issues.

The Chairperson said that at no point did she say that the Committee was not aware that SACGA would be bringing their Senior Counsel. They were aware. Mr Stainbank informed the Committee Secretary. The Chairperson said that the Committee did not object to Senior Counsel’s presence, but they did not want to directly engage with them.

Mr Stainbank said that there were a lot of mistruths about transformation in SACGA. He stated that the DG for DTI said that the sugar industry, and SACGA particularly, supported white growers over black growers, and that it was a white growers’ association, but the attached annexures detailed all the truths. The bottom line was that the cane growers became a democratic organisation representing all race groups long before the advent of democracy, before it was legislated. He said that what was effectively asked of SACGA was to rewind the progress and transformation in the industry. He asked the Committee if they wanted to “undo the good work that was already done since 1992 when SACGA embarked on the road of transformation. ‘

Mr Stainbank said that SACGA had a federation of growers represented under one body. He appealed to the Committee that contrary to the allegations, SACGA was representative of all cane growers from all regions in the industry. He said that at no point did SAFDA indicate what its intentions were. It seemed like it sought to destroy SACGA. He said that SACGA was not denying change. They were open and welcomed changed. He said that SACGA was the most transformed sector of agriculture. He was not saying SACGA achieved what it wanted to achieve, transformation was an ongoing process and it would continue to transform.

Ms Dipuo Ntuli said that G6 was an entity made up of a large number of small scale growers that were not receiving any assistance from government. They introduced themselves to the DG Mr October on 13 October 2016 and informed him that they were not receiving assistance from SAFDA because SAFDA alleged they were beneficiaries of land reform.

The Chairperson said she confused because she understood G6 to be a separate entity and it would have its own opportunity to present.

Ms Ntuli said that G6 was a group of small scale cane growers falling under the unified SACGA body. She was elected as a board member of SACGA coming from G6.

Ms Van Schalkwyk said that she did not have access to Ms Ntuli’s presentation.

Mr Stainbank said that Ms Ntuli’s presentation was oral based and she did not prepare a written submission for the Committee.

Mr Mashaba said the he was a small-scale grower from Mpumalanga. The small-scale growers from Mpumalanga showed how to sustain themselves, and if all the small-scale growers could work hand in hand with SAFDA and SACGA, it could achieve more.

South African Sugar Millers Association (SASMA) comment

Mr Martin Mohale, Chairman, SASMA, said that SASMA was an association formed to represent South African sugar millers and refiners, and its members were as follows:

  • Illovo Sugar (South Africa) Ltd;
  • Tongaat Hulett Sugar (South Africa) Ltd;
  • RCL Foods Sugar and Milling (Pty) Ltd;
  • Gledhow Sugar Company (Pty) Ltd;
  • UCL Company (Pty) Ltd; and
  • Umfolozi Sugar Mill (Pty) Ltd.

He said that millers and growers were interdependent and both parties relied on each other for continued sustainability. The performance and survival of the sugar industry required an understanding of the interdependence between millers and growers, both at SASA and at a local mill area level. The growing section had to represent and be cognizant of the broad range of farmers from small scale growers to large commercial operations, including land reform projects through to dry land and irrigated operations. South African sugar mills were operating significantly below crushing capacity and a number of mills would be under threat without stability in cane supply and grower affairs. A disharmonious growers section could fundamentally compromise the industry, which was already facing significant challenges such as the exposure to sugar imports, and pest and disease issues.

He said that the diversity of growers increased requiring a different structure to represent the views of such diversity. SASMA together with DTI supported and funded an external mediation process to find a different representative structure. SASMA continued to assist and make contributions to the DTI in accordance with the mediated agreements. The South African sugar industry remained within the top 20% of the most efficient sugar producers in the world. The industry was a national asset which continued to contribute to the development of provinces, the country, and its entire population.

G6 Small Scale Growers Association comment

Mr M Ntombela, Chairman, G6 Small Scale Cane Growers Association, said that G6 was recently registered as a company in terms of the Company’s Act of 2008. The purpose of meeting with the Committee was to address the proposed intervention by DTI between SAFDA and SACGA, that it shares 50/50 representation in SASA. He said that the G6 was requesting that DTI also consider recognising G6 as a third legitimate growers association having a recognised following of small scale black growers in six mill areas. G6 was not against SAFDA or SACGA, but it supported SACGA because it was an old structure under which they descended.

South African Farmers Development Association (SAFDA) comment

Mr Sifiso Mnguni, Director of Operations, SAFDA, who was also the former SACGA Sustainability Manager, said that after 23 years into democracy, SACGA was still practicing white only leadership and management, despite having 18 000 black members versus 1 900 white members. There were no black people in the top management of the structures. He said that while he was at SACGA, he would often be instructed by top executives to “put on his best suit and tie” for meetings with government officials and did not need to prepare any presentation of sorts. He said that “blacks were used for window dressing”, to show that SACGA was an organisation supporting transformation, but they were not.

Mr Mnguni said that not many black people were willing to be used for suppression of other black people, and as such, SACGA had a tendency of grabbing just anyone who was available and willing to be used, even if they did not qualify to be appointed as board members. Both Mr Ntombela and Ms Ntuli did not produce any cane for a number of seasons, but were recognised as grower leaders, and Ms Ntuli was even appointed as a board member of SACGA from the structures of G6.

Mr Sifiso Mnguni, Director of Operations, SAFDA, who was also the former SACGA Sustainability Manager, said that after 23 years into democracy, SACGA was still practicing white only leadership and management, despite having 18 000 black members versus 1 900 white members. There were no black people in the top management of the structures. He said that while he was at SACGA, he would often be instructed by top executives to “put on his best suit and tie” for meetings with government officials and did not need to prepare any presentation of sorts. He said that “blacks were used for window dressing”, to show that SACGA was an organisation supporting transformation, but they were not.

Mr Mnguni said that not many black people were willing to be used for suppression of other black people, and as such, SACGA had a tendency of grabbing just anyone who was available and willing to be used, even if they did not qualify to be appointed as board members. Both Mr Ntombela and Ms Ntuli did not produce any cane for a number of seasons, but were recognised as grower leaders, and Ms Ntuli was even appointed as a board member of SACGA from the structures of G6.

Mr Mnguni said that transformation was received with bad attitudes from CEOs who said “if the board wanted the CEOs to fill the position of a Transformation Director, they needed to tell them what they meant by ‘transformation”.  The position of Transformation Director was not filled but rather replaced with a predominantly white transformation board subcommittee led by a white person. The G6 project was a counter transformation black-on-black tension created and nurtured personally by the former Chairman of SACGA, Mr Murray. All they wanted was for G6 to tell black growers to distance themselves from SAFDA.

Mr Mnguni said that SACGA hated the word ‘transformation’. They were spending every little cent they had hiring Senior Legal Counsel to stop transformation from happening. “The sad thing was that they were using black growers’ money to fight black growers!”

Discussion

The Chairperson said that it might appear as the Committee was rushing but they were not. They were at the end of the year and did not have time. The Chairperson asked the Committee to propose a way forward.

Mr Williams said that all the presentations received seemed to be a ‘he said, she said’ scenario. He said that DTI needed to conduct a Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment status on SACGA to verify its position. That was the way forward he proposed.

Ms Mantashe said that she was shocked at the presentation by SAFDA that displayed the levels of management in the cane growers association. She was worried about the 18 000 farmers who were being robbed of the little money they were making.

Ms Ntlangwini said that she wanted to agree with her colleagues that had just spoken. Sometimes individuals took politicians for granted in their role. She could see the arrogance in SACGA. There was no transformation in that organisation. The DTI needed to play a more active role in the process. They could not be bullied by small organisations. This was one of the areas that the Committee would need to do oversight on first.

Ms Ntlangwini supported Mr Williams’ proposal that DTI investigate SACGA’s BBBEE status because it was all white males in the executive with only three women.

Ms Van Schalkwyk said that the main thing was that irrespective of agreements reached and not being attended to, the main problem was governance. Because they were governed by the 1978 Sugar Act, they were sitting with all “this power”.

Ms Van Schalkwyk proposed that the Committee also propose to the Portfolio Committee on Labour to zoom into the working conditions of farmers in SACGA.

Mr Mbuyane said that there was no transformation in the managerial structure of SACGA and asked why there were no black people in management.

Mr Mbuyane said that the Committee should also review SASA so that it could accommodate black people.

Ms Theko said that the Committee needed to go on oversight, and the Committee needed a report from Mr October whether agreements with stakeholders were reached.

Ms Ntlangwini proposed that SAFDA be given an opportunity to operate on its own instead of reporting to a racist organisation that was not transforming or looking after the people’s interests.

Ms Mantashe said that she understood what Ms Ntlangwini was saying because each person had a constitutional right.

Mr October said that the DTI would support each of the recommendations made by the Committee. He said that they would do a review of SACGA and submit a report to the Committee.

The Chairperson asked if there were any objections to the proposal Mr Williams put on the table which was added to and strengthened by Committee Members.

All Members agreed.

The Chairperson said that the proposal would be put in writing so that Members could check it on Tuesday and a resolution could be passed.

Localisation inquiry
On the planned localisation inquiry, the Chairperson said that local content and localisation was a priority of the government, so much so that supply chain management policy had made it part of its bedrock. The impact on local  content was under pressure.

Ms Mantashe said that the Committee decided to do a localisation inquiry into the Transport sector. The Committee could not close its eyes as if nothing was happening. The objectives of the inquiry were to establish the extent to which local content was applied by government and state-owned companies.

The meeting was adjourned.

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