Sugar cane growers’ dispute: DTI progress report

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Trade and Industry

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

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) reported that it had appeared before the Committee on 12 October and 10 November 2017 about the ongoing dispute between the SA Cane Growers Association (SACGA) and the SA Farmer Development Association (SAFDA). SAFDA argued that it was not recognised by the sugar industry as a sugar cane growers association representing mainly land reform beneficiaries. The key concern was access by SAFDA to their contribution of levies collected by the SA Sugar Association (SASA) to undertake their own development. The Portfolio Committee had resolved that SASA and SACGA had to comply with instructions issued by DTI as set out in letters dated 20 April and 20 October 2017, failing which the Committee would request SASA to review the membership status and payment of levies to SACGA. The Minister would also be advised to amend the Sugar Act regulations and for SAFDA to be recognised as a SASA member.

The DTI tried to find a mediated settlement between SAFDA and SACGA, but SACGA rejected the DTI suggestion of a 50/50 split between the two. DTI directed SASA to draft changes to the SASA constitution to affect requisite changes. DTI commenced with a review of the BEE status of SACGA. SASA was instructed to hold a special general meeting, scheduled for 12 December, for adoption of requisite changes. Failure to resolve the impasse at the general meeting would trigger the Minister’s powers to amend the sugar legislation and regulations. DTI would appoint a mediator to assist with operationalising changes to the SASA constitution.

In discussion, a sense of urgency prevailed. Both the Portfolio Committee and DTI indicated that they would be willing to resort to drastic measures if the impasse was not resolved. An ANC Member stated frankly that the sugar industry could no longer be run by a few white individuals. Transformation was insisted upon, which meant that the sugar industry had to reflect the demographic profile, and there had to be proper representation. There was general skepticism in the Committee about the commitment to transformation of SASA and SACGA. The stated neutrality of SASA was criticised, and the Committee was not convinced that SACGA would act in good faith, as it had already shown recalcitrance. The Committee joined DTI in insisting that SASA provide leadership. There was a strong suspicion in the Committee that delaying tactics could be resorted to. DTI for its part warned against the use of mediation as a delaying tactic.

There were calls for and questions about amendment of the legislation and regulations, as well as insistence on increased oversight of the sugar industry. Members stated that the Sugar Act dated back to 1978, and could not prescribe adequately in the current democratic context. There was a strong conviction that the sugar industry was of crucial importance to SA, and that transformation was essential for it to grow. The scheduled special general meeting of SASA on 12 December was described by the Chairperson as a penultimate opportunity to demonstrate a willingness to resolve the cane growers’ dispute and to work towards transformation. It was clearly stated by both the Portfolio Committee and DTI that their patience had been tried to the utmost. In the words of the Chairperson: “enough was enough”. The Committee fully supported the stated intention of DTI to resort to measures that the Chairperson described as “rigorous, some would say draconian”, if the impasse was not resolved on 12 December.

There would be a public hearing on the Debt Relief Committee Bill on 30 January 2018.
 

Meeting report

The Chairperson announced that she had asked DTI to give a progress report on the sugar cane growers’ dispute, and had asked the SA Sugar Association (SASA) the SA Cane Growers Association (SACGA) and the SA Farmer Development Association (SAFDA) to be present. The press had called about the Committee Debt Relief Bill, and there would be a report in the Cape Times.
 
Sugar cane growers’ dispute: DTI progress report
Mr Lionel October, DTI Director General, said that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) appeared before the Committee on12 October and 10 November 2017 about the ongoing dispute between SACGA and SAFDA. SAFDA argued that it was not recognised by the sugar industry as a cane growers’ association representing mainly land reform beneficiaries. SAFDA broke away from SACGA in 2015. The key issue was access to their contribution of levies collected by SASA, as legislated, to undertake their own development. The Portfolio Committee resolved on 10 November 2017 that SASA and SACGA had to comply with nstructions issued by DTI as set out in letters dated 20 April and 20 October 2017, failing which the Committee would request SASA to review the membership status and payment of levies to SACGA. The Minister would be advised to amend the regulations and the Sugar Act for SAFDA to be recognised as a SASA member. DTI tried to find a mediated settlement between SAFDA and SACGA, but SACGA rejected the DTI suggestion of a 50/50 split between the two. DTI directed SASA to draft changes to the SASA constitution to effect requisite changes. DTI commenced with a review of the BEE status of SACGA. SASA was instructed to hold a special general meeting, scheduled for 12 December, for adoption of the requisite changes. Failure to resolve the impasse at the general meeting would trigger the Minister’s powers to amend the sugar legislation. DTI would appoint a mediator to assist with operationalising changes to the SASA constitution.

Discussion
The Chairperson commented that there had been movement and constructive engagement.

Mr A Williams (ANC) remarked that suspension of levies with immediate effect was recommended at the 22 November committee meeting, if there was non-compliance with DTI instructions. The Committee wanted transformation of the sugar industry from which everyone would benefit. It could not be run by a few white individuals. Transformation had to take a form with which everyone agreed. The Portfolio Committee was not currently inclined to force change in legislation, but if there was a lack of progress, it would do so.

Mr J Esterhuizen (IFP) referred to the conclusion. A compromise position had to be reached. The Minister of Finance had commented that there were areas of industry that had not been transformed. DTI had to intervene about levies. The question was whether it was legal to stop the supply of levies to the millers. The sugar industry was a R14 billion per year industry. Deregulation could destroy the industry. There had to be more oversight over the industry.

Ms N Ntlangwini (EFF) noted that Mr Charles Nupen had mediated before. Yet SACGA went back on the mediation agreement. She was not convinced that Charles Nupen could achieve what was desired. The question was how the Committee could assist transformation. Charles Nupen received a lot of money but did not help the industry. She asked what would happen if the meeting scheduled for 12 December did not sit, and what the next step by the Committee would be to enforce transformation. She proposed that the DG and the legal team look into the matter. She asked what would happen if the SASA constitution was not amended. It could be seen as delaying tactics. It might be necessary to suspend some clauses in the constitution. The process had to be guided by the mandates of the Committee and DTI, within the context of the political dynamics of the following year. The matter had to be resolved, and she agreed that there had to be proper oversight.

Ms P Mantashe (ANC) was concerned that there was no mention of what would be done about levies. The Department could consider suspending regulations, especially on levies. The attitude of SACGA had to change. Regulations had to be changed and DTI had to do proper oversight. It was a valuable industry but it was not fair that it was at the expense of other parties. The status quo was unacceptable. There was the possibility that SASA and the Millers Association had conflicting interests that blocked progress.

Adv A Alberts (FF+) commented that he had missed previous discussions. He wanted to come in from leftfield about another matter. The future had to be foreseen. The sugar agreement potentially allowed the outlawing of other means of producing sugar like fructose. SA currently imported fructose. The sugar lobby had to come to the party.

Ms C Theko (ANC) asked if the suspension of levies would present legal difficulties.

The Chairperson referred to the meeting with DTI and SASA on 16 November. SASA was the umbrella body. She asked how members were appointed, whether it had to be members of the sugar cane industry. Some organisations had clauses in their constitution that stated that if there was no quorum at a meeting, another meeting could be called. There had to be transformation in the entire country. The DG had to assure the Committee that things were going in the right direction. She asked if SASA and SACGA had a business plan for transformation.

Mr October replied that in legal terms the Sugar Act recognised SASA as the regulator. SASA derived its powers from the Act, it was a statutory creature. The Sugar Industry Agreement was a regulation attached to the Act. It dealt with the SASA constitution, and the membership of the Millers Association and SACGA. It was a regulation which the Minister could amend. The SASA constitution was recognised. The Committee had resolved that there had to be suspension of levies in the event of non-cooperation by the sugar cane growers. The options were to amend the Sugar Industry Agreement or the Act itself. The power to levy was derived from the Act itself. SACGA had those powers based on membership of SASA. It was an additional cost that went to SACGA to run its affairs. It was like a trade union closed shop agreement, in which R3 from every member would go to the union. DTI obtained legal advice on the matter. Membership of SACGA would have to be suspended in order to suspend levies. If SACGA insisted on maintaining monopoly status, it would be seen as not acting in good faith. DTI could make amendments to the regulations, and if that was challenged, the Committee could change the Act. SASA could be suspended and instructed to come back when it was a transformed body. Charles Nupen had managed to get agreement from parties; that it was not implemented was the fault of the cane growers. SACGA signed an agreement but then told its members that it was no longer going to follow it. SACGA reneged on a negotiated settlement. SACGA was recalcitrant; it was not the fault of Charles Nupen. In terms of the SASA constitution 21 days notice had to be given for a meeting to take place. There would be a vote on the representation of SAFDA on 12 December. DTI wanted one industry and one association. Discussion towards a resolution had to continue. Even if it was resolved on 12 December to allow SAFDA in, negotiations had to continue to get everyone in. DTI wanted transformation, with all role players represented. Only if there was non-cooperation, could it be recommended to the Minister to change the regulations.

Ms C Van Schalkwyk (ANC) remarked that she was not seeing a clause that indicated that there would be consequences if the agreement was not abided with. It looked like a delaying tactic to frustrate other groups. People were suffering and going hungry while others were getting money from board meetings. If there was no cooperation or solution on 12 December, it would be unacceptable if the matter only returned to the Committee in February 2018. The question was what could be done immediately.

Mr S Mbuyane (ANC) commented that the status of the meeting on 12 December had to be known in terms of delegations and members that would attend. DTI had to verify the BEEE status of SACGA.

The Chairperson remarked that the Committee was concerned about the meeting on 12 December as the question was what would happen after that.

Mr Mbuyane pointed out that the Sugar Act dated back to 1978. There was no intent to transform the industry in that Act.

Ms Mantashe commented that SAFDA was not recognised, but levies were extracted from them.

The Chairperson asked the SASA chairperson how the meeting of 12 December would be constituted.

Mr Suresh Naidoo, SASA Chairperson, replied that in terms of the SASA constitution 21 days notice had to be given for a general meeting to take place. If there was no quorum, another meeting could be held one week later. Members then present would constitute a quorum. The general meeting would be constituted of members appointed by the Millers Association and SACGA, which would each appoint 18 delegates for the special general meeting.

The Chairperson asked if delegates would be people from the sugar industry.

Mr Naidoo replied that the councillors appointed would be industry members.

The Chairperson asked Mr Naidoo to comment on the fact that SAFDA was not a member, but levies were extracted from it.

Mr Naidoo responded that clause 162 of the SASA constitution prescribed that there was an obligation on SASA to pay levies over to the cane growers.

Mr Williams commented that the Committee intended to be firm. The meeting on 12 December would be just before Christmas. Levies would have to be suspended if the meeting on 12 December did not happen. He asked how cooperation would be defined. The process was not to be dragged out. The ANC was not happy. If people were not willing to work together, DTI and the Minister had to act.

Mr Mbuyane remarked on the special general meeting on 12 December, saying the question was why the general meeting was awaited to assist the Committee and aid transformation. The people that would meet represented the same structures. They would be giving each other packages.

Mr Esterhuizen commented that SAFDA had to be given a voice and had to be recognised. If not, DTI had to step in. Section 29 of the Constitution dealt with property rights. One could not tell a farmer what to grow. He advised that there not be a ‘going to extremes’. There were legal rights built into SASA membership. The Committee could receive feedback in January and make a decision.

Ms Ntlangwini said that legally the form of the delegations to the meeting could not be changed. She asked about the clauses in its constitution that SASA proposed to amend. She asked if SAFDA was to be recognised in the meeting of 12 December.

Mr D Macpherson (DA) asked if SASA was in favour of including another body, or opposed to it. It had to be made clear. He asked if consensual decisions could be made when the Millers and SACGA met in SASA. He asked if the SASA chairperson was represented on the boards of the Millers Association or SACGA.

Ms Theko referred to conflict of interest. Members were worried about the outcome of the 12 December meeting. The Committee had to convene early in January.

Mr Esterhuizen remarked that it was the object of the Committee to protect the consumer. SA sugar prices were the highest in the world.

The Chairperson said that if SAFDA was not recognized, it could not be on the executive. SAFDA was entirely on the outside, while insiders made rules for themselves. She told Mr Naidoo that it could not continue. There was a specific question about which clauses were on the table for amendment. She asked if that would help. There was the element of trust. A decision was taken once before to implement changes, but it was not done.

Mr Naidoo responded that if the legislation changed, SASA would have to act accordingly. SASA was not trying to delay. There was a meeting on 10 November, and then on 15 November in the DG’s office, where it was conveyed what DTI wanted SASA to do. SASA had complied with the requests. He could not call a special general meeting on his own. There had to be a request from council, which he had to wait for. He responded to Mr Mbuyane that there was a parallel process. The outcomes of the 12 December meeting could not be predicted, but there was a facilitation process ahead that could yield a different result if there was consensus from all parties. He answered Ms Ntlangwini that the clauses to be amended were those related to membership, the recognition of SAFDA and levies. Committee concerns would be captured. He answered Mr Macpherson about whether SASA wanted multiple membership. SASA was neutral, and was guided by the delegates. There would be consensus or voting on 12 December. Each delegate had one vote. A majority of two thirds was needed. The majority had to include votes from both sections. He answered Ms Theko about conflict of interest. He was a member of the SACGA board, but he had no vote. He suggested that consumer protection be addressed in another debate.

The Chairperson asked the Vice-Chairperson of SACGA, who was present, if he was mandated.

Mr Rex Talmadge answered that he was.

Mr Macpherson commented that it was essential for SASA to have a position, as it was facing challenges and accusations from the Committee and DTI. SASA could not be neutral, it had to lead. He asked how Mr Naidoo could be neutral if he sat on the SACGA board, even if he did not have a vote. There was a conflict of interest. SASA was working towards consensus, which was good, but consensus could also be used to slow down change. He was concerned about SASA neutrality. Mr Naidoo had a vested interest, although he had no vote, he could use persuasion. There had to be a deeper look at the potential for change. He would be skeptical if SASA did not show leadership.

Mr Williams remarked that there was a slogan in the US in 1772 to the effect that there could be no taxation without representation. Organisations were being taxed who were not represented. SASA was not speaking out, but only acting in terms of the legislation. DTI had to look at legislation to transform the industry, and return in a month.

Ms Van Schalkwyk agreed with Mr Williams. There was a need for urgent movement. SAFDA raised complaints on 15 November. DTI tried its best but things were not done in good faith. SAFDA had to get money in its pockets before 31 December. Other people were using their money. The meeting of 12 December would not yield a result. DTI had to recommend how the Minister could make regulations. There was a need to fast track the process.

The Chairperson agreed with Mr Williams and Mr Macpherson that neutrality was undesirable. She asked SASA about its role in promoting good governance. She asked Mr Naidoo what the point was in having a person in his position, not a robot. He had to give guidance, in the same way that she attempted to. The engine was not on track. More could be done. The meeting would be attended by the same members. The question was what would be different. There would only be two groups with vested interests. The Committee would have to put forward an additional resolution to ensure that SASA and SACGA implement changes which involved SAFDA. She asked SACGA if it was on board, and serious about transformation.

Ms Mantashe referred to SASA neutrality. She asked what SASA was doing to address SAFDA grievances. Levies were taken and SAFDA did not benefit. It was not recognised but levies were taken from it. A poor community was being created. It was killing the industry.

Mr Macpherson remarked that transformation was important, but representation was even more important. Those who paid a levy had to have a say. If levies were received from SAFDA, it had to be heard. SASA was the custodian of the levies, and had to make a stand. SASA was not being responsive to the industry.

The Chairperson commented that it was arguably not in accordance with the Constitution to take levies from SAFDA and then to ignore them. The 1978 Act went through before the current Constitution came into being. She asked for a response from SACGA

Mr Talmadge stated that SACGA was indeed committed to transformation. SACGA had not had an opportunity to advance its position. He wished to contextualise and adequately inform the issues for the Portfolio Committee, which was prepared to resort to extreme measures. He had brought a document along and would only need a couple of minutes to present it.

The Chairperson responded that fairness would be observed, in line with the Constitution. The meeting could not be left until all viewpoints had been heard.

Mr Naidoo answered Mr Macpherson that it was difficult to balance neutrality and leadership. SASA had taken the lead by initiating facilitation, and by bringing the sections together. If he as the SASA chairperson did not seem neutral he could be slated by any of the parties. Leadership was based in the persuasive power of his position.

Mr Macpherson asked Mr Naidoo what he saw as a desired outcome.

Mr Naidoo responded that it would be transformation and multiple representation. He answered Ms Van Schalkwyk that SASA was bound by prescripts such as having to give notice of a meeting 21 days in advance. Prescriptions were there for a reason. If it was not abided by, a favourable outcome could be reached and someone could cry foul. He assured the Committee that SASA did not want to delay the process.

The Chairperson allowed Mr Talmadge to present the document.

Mr Rex Talmadge, SACGA vice-chairperson, explained that there were millers and cane growers sections so that millers and growers could not dominate each other. SACGA had 27 members, each of whom represented growers. Complexities were dealt with by Charles Nupen. Decisions were taken by the Congress of Growers, who were predominantly black. It was a complex matter, the aim was not to veto SAFDA, but the question was how to practically grant an opportunity for SAFDA to act alongside SACGA. SACGA was committed to a solution that would not disturb the balance between millers and growers. There were 27 growers associations, with a democratically elected congress and board. The question was on what basis SAFDA or any other could be elected to sit alongside SACGA.

The Chairperson remarked that SAFDA was not included but still levied. The question was how to accommodate all cane growers. Why could SAFDA not be included, and how could transformation be compliant with BEEE, if one looked at the names on Mr Talmadge’s list. She told the DTI Director General that information was needed. He had stated that DTI had delved. It was unacceptable to have an organisation that did not reflect the demographic profile of the country. It would be against legislation that the Committee had to adhere to. She asked to what extent there was compliance with the demographic profile.

Mr Talmadge replied that the flow into Congress of Growers represented small scale and commercial farmers equally. In 2014, after an extensive process, it was decided to amend to make provision for land reform growers who had up until then not been recognised as a category. At a 2015 annual general meeting of cane growers, the majority of the delegates there were black, and had the power to vote. A board was elected that consisted of five black males and one black female, and eight white males. That was the choice of Congress of Growers.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee was saying that there could be no levy without representation. She asked how it was possible to have eight white males if there was proper representation. She asked if SAFDA had been a member at some point.

Mr Talmadge replied that the SAFDA leaders had served on the SACGA board for some time, and were also members of the Congress of Growers.

The Chairperson asked SAFDA why it left SACGA.

Mr Siyabonga Madlala, SAFDA Chairperson, replied that the majority in the Congress of Growers were deemed black, but the final product was a white majority. It was propagated even before the board was elected. The IEC of SACGA consisted of two white ladies, who were employees.

The Chairperson asked if he was referring to an electoral commission.

Mr Madladla replied in the affirmative. The black members were handpicked to create an image of transformation. The directors were picked months beforehand. Voting was just a formality. It was realised that there was no transformation. Grant money from government was refused, that was lobbied for the development of land reform growers. The eight white members claimed that it was a high risk for them. It was unacceptable to be part of an organisation that was counter-transformational.

The Chairperson asked Mr October what DTI was negotiating between SAFDA and SACGA and the millers.

Mr October, DTI DG, replied that it was a complex situation. DTI needed to see how all growers’ interests could be represented. Mediation was entered into because of the complexity of the situation. A first attempt was not successful, as the parties would not talk to each other, according to the report by Mr Charles Nupen. Another round of consultation followed. He spoke to Mr Nupen, SASA and the Millers Association. Transformation and representation was not simple. Yet there was the result of a halfway house of a signed agreement between the SACGA negotiating team and SAFDA. When he said that people reneged he was speaking advisedly. There was a copy of the agreement. It was unacceptable for parties to not adhere to the agreement. He had pleaded with SAGCA in a letter to implement the agreement but they refused. He then advised that both parties have 50/50 representation.

Mr October said that a carve-out was obtained from the Competition Commission for the levy system. It was a very special arrangement. SASA and cane growers were in a privileged position. As Mr Macpherson had mentioned, in terms of competition law that was not ordinarily allowed. The sugar industry was a big industry, at R14 billion per year, and a big employer. DTI did not want to throw it open to the world to be destroyed, as happened with the clothing and textile industry. DTI wanted to maintain a regulated industry.

Mr October said SA followed what was common in Europe on membership. In Europe, membership of an employers organisation was compulsory. DTI did everything in its power to grow the industry. SA was exporting sugar for the first time to the EU. It was the first time since 1960. When SA was thrown out of the Commonwealth in 1960, it lost its privileges to the UK. At the request of SASA, South Africa was put back into the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). When the National Treasury was delaying the implementation of the tripartite agreements and an increased sugar price, DTI got an agreement to sign off within seven days for an increase in the sugar price. The International Trade Agreement Commission (ITAC) was involved, and the Minister signed off immediately on an increased sugar price. But there could not be growth without transformation. Mr October said Clause 2, which was the membership clause, was to be amended to recognise both SACGA and SAFDA. A draft clause was developed with the assistance of lawyers, which was clearly worded. Amendments had to be made because SA was a nation of laws.

Mr October replied to Ms Mantashe and Mr Macpherson that what they had said to SASA was also discussed extensively with them by DTI. SASA had to play a leadership role. DTI hoped for a positive outcome, with two associations recognised. But the mediation process would continue, so that the parties amongst themselves could come up with a better arrangement than a crude 50/50 split. If it did not happen, the Minister could amend or withdraw the SASA constitution, as it was a regulation linked to the Sugar Industry Agreement. SASA was recognised in terms of that agreement. The Minister could have the option to remove the whole of SASA as a privileged regulation. SASA could come back to be reconstituted as a body if certain terms were met. Alternatively the membership of SASA as a whole could be suspended. If SACGA acted in bad faith and would not allow SAFDA in, only SAFDA would be recognised, as SACGA would be seen to have acted against the spirit and nature of the Constitution. In terms of the membership clause of the Sugar Industry Agreement, there would be a new constitution for SASA. Once that was done SACGA could no longer receive levies as it would no longer be a member. That could be seen as a nuclear option. Committee members were impatient as there had been a search for two to three years for a South African type resolution through mediation. But DTI had also reached the end of its patience. A final attempt at resolution would be allowed on 12 December; otherwise the other option would kick in, if the parties could not reach a solution of their own.

The Chairperson noted that the Sugar Act dated back to 1978, and the Sugar Industry Agreement to 2000. The DG was saying that the meeting of 12 December had to go ahead as a penultimate opportunity, failing which there was to be the nuclear option which was rigorous, some would say draconian. The Portfolio Committee was saying that enough was enough. The 12 December meeting would go ahead in the manner intended, and if that was boycotted there would be another meeting within seven days. If it was decided that there was no need to do what was required because the Act said x or y, and nothing was done to implement what DTI called for in its letters, then what DTI had outlined would come to pass.

Mr Williams commented that he absolutely supported what DTI was proposing, but he still thought that amendments to legislation had to take place. One could not foresee what the future held. It could be possible that in two years’ time there could be a challenge in terms of the legislation. DTI would let the nuclear option kick in if the meeting of 12 December or 19 December did not have the desired result.

Ms Mantashe agreed that it was not the time for playing games. The attitude of the organisations left much to be desired. It had to be looked into in future.

Ms Ntlangwini asked if the Nupen intervention would still continue, and if so, when the final report would be available. She asked how the legislation could be amended. She asked if the fact that SAFDA was registered as one of 27 growers associations implied that it did not have growers.

Mr Talmadge replied that it was captured in that way because SAFDA registered as an association and as an agency. He therefore captured it as an organisation.

The Chairperson said that it was being put forward that X had been done, but X had to comply with the Constitution and the rules of Parliament.

Mr Williams proposed that DTI encapsulate what had changed since the 1978 legislation.

The Chairperson told DTI that there had to be speedy intervention.

Mr October advised that the two processes be separated. There was agreement that SAFDA had to be formally recognised as a member of SASA. The SASA constitution had to be amended to recognise SACGA and SAFDA. If the criterion was people, SAFDA would account for 90 percent. If it was to be tonnage, it would reinforce the old Apartheid system, where 100 percent of the land was owned by one group. White farmers had all the acreage under them. Ownership of land could not be used as a basis for membership. There had to be amendment to the SASA constitution on membership. DTI would love to see a mediated agreement that would allow SACGA and SAFDA to become a single body, or for there to be a confederation. There was to be another attempt to accomplish that, but DTI would warn against using mediation to block constitutional amendment. DTI was not playing games, and it was not naïve. People were suddenly interested in mediation. If the parties agreed there would be a basis for amendment of the constitution. There could be a constitutional amendment that would result in a unified association. If there was no amendment, SACGA would have to be removed as sole representative.

The Chairperson asked that a Committee member propose a way forward. At the end of the engagement on 12 December there would be one of two options. There could be a unified organisation, which would be first prize, or a 50/50 arrangement. If it was not implemented, DTI could amend the membership clause, as it was authorised to do.

Ms Van Schalkwyk seconded that, but it ought not to be overlooked that if all else failed, the very last option would be for SACGA to be removed as sole representative, in which event it would not have 100 or even 50 percent representation, but none at all, with SAFDA getting 100 percent representation.

The Chairperson asked if the seven days referred to were work days or calendar days. The Parliamentary Legal Adviser would have to check if what was being done was in line with the Constitution and Parliamentary regulations. There would be another meeting early next year, with a report back by DTI.

Ms Mantashe said that she had proposed that grievances had to be addressed, but nothing came out of that.

The Chairperson asked SAFDA if their grievances were addressed.

Mr Madlala replied that he felt like a South African with rights. Anyone with a sense of Ubuntu would know that it was unethical to take levies simply because the law allowed it. It would be ethical to pay back levies before the law changed.

The Chairperson told him that the law did not always guarantee justice. Yet the law had to be respected as it stood. SACGA had to take the ethical issue into account.

Ms Ntlangweni proposed that DTI investigate the levy process and maintain oversight.

The Chairperson told Members that they would be electronically informed until the 15 December. Any large documents would be mailed to people. The sugar industry was critical, especially on the employment side. There had to be more research and development towards other ways to process sugar. The sugar industry had a huge future. All involved in the industry had to act in the spirit of the Constitution and embrace it. The private sector was much concerned that Parliament uphold the Constitution, but the private sector also had to do so. Leaders had to ensure that all associations implemented the Constitution to help transform the country. They had an obligation to do so as South Africans. She appreciated SACGA coming to the meeting. She was sure that SACGA would like to retain its membership of SASA. She urged that they implement instructions. She told Mr Talmadge that he was a young man, and could persuade people as old as herself to change. His future was at stake. All sugar growers had to be protected. She had worked in the sugar industry herself, and knew that the industry could be transformed. People forgot that silence implied consent. Sugar cane growers had to drive transformation. It was dangerous to be a fence-sitter. One ran the risk of falling off.

The Chairperson announced that it was the end of the Committee year.

The Committee minutes of 15 November were adopted.

The Chairperson said that information about the study tour would be communicated electronically. The Debt Relief Bill would be gazetted on 24 November. There had to be radio interviews about the Bill. It was a Committee Bill and Members could speak in their mother tongue.

The Committee Secretary noted that the only languages not covered were Sepedi and Tswana.

The Chairperson remarked that languages were well represented in the Committee.

All Members indicated what languages they were willing and able to be interviewed in for radio, and thanked the Chairperson for her leadership.

The Chairperson thanked DTI, the Committee staff, the Researcher and Content Adviser, and the Parliamentary Legal Adviser, and representatives of the sugar industry. There would be a public hearing on the Debt Relief Committee Bill on Tuesday, 30 January 2018.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

 

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