Letters to the editor: June 26 to July 2 2015

A plan for food security

South Africa is vulnerable to climate change, which has the potential to destabilise agriculture and food security, and undermine economic development in rural areas (Climate change has beer over a barrel).

The Western Cape, with its Mediterranean climate, will probably see the greatest weather changes in coming years.

Considering that it produces 23.3% of the national agricultural gross domestic product, represents 45% of national agricultural exports and employs 150 000 farmworkers, climate change could have a big impact on national food security and jobs in the agricultural sector.

Only a modest increase of 0.8°C in temperature this century will force South African farms to use 145-million³ litres more water, which already is a scarce resource, particularly in the Western Cape. Over the past 50 years, the temperature in the Western Cape has increased, on average, by 1°C, and each year we are facing a progressively later start and end to the rainy season.

Extreme weather is already costing our farmers dearly and having a negative effect on jobs and agri-economic growth. The direct economic losses from the flash floods over the past few years are already in excess of R5-billion.

“SmartAgri” is the Western Cape’s climate-change framework and implementation plan, currently in phase one. It responds specifically to the agricultural sector in the province.

The R2.8-million project will be completed next year and be ready to be rolled out to the entire region by March 2016.

There is great potential for such forward planning as new opportunities arise for farmers across the Western Cape. New wine production areas can open up in the southern Cape regions, for example, and new crops can be introduced to the province.

The Western Cape government takes its agricultural sector very seriously. Developing a framework such as this one will ensure that we secure the future of food security, jobs and growth in the Western Cape. – Beverly Schäfer, MPL and chairperson of the standing committee on economic opportunities, tourism and agriculture, Western Cape

Ruling bolsters policy on exchange controls

Did anyone not notice that to have capital exported out of South Africa without any exit charge is part of an unpatriotic and dangerous agenda?

Thankfully, the Constitutional Court has ruled on the Mark Shuttleworth case, in which he had applied, in 2009, to the South African Reserve Bank for permission to transfer capital of about R2.5-billion out of South Africa, but refused to pay any exit charge as per the law.

The court correctly held that an exit charge is not inconsistent with the Constitution, and that the chief purpose of the exit charge is not to raise revenue but rather to regulate conduct by discouraging the export of capital – the aim being to protect the domestic economy.

The court’s reasoning is similar to an opinion expressed by the South African Communist Party to the effect that exchange controls are particularly important as a policy instrument to keep the resources needed for development in the country. The court’s ruling reaffirms South Africa’s national policy sovereignty.

If we take these two opinions on board, it is clear that progress towards ending inequality and poverty has taken a great step forward.

The liberalisation of exchange controls has cost the country massive amounts in tax revenue – monies needed to create jobs and finance economic transformation and development.

If South Africa is to implement a progressive industrialisation process, one of the things it will have to do is to prevent capital flight.

Our democracy should not be taken for granted and misused in unpatriotic acts that will sooner or later cripple the country. – Thabo Thwala, Bothaville

Zuma does not care for ordinary folk

I am vitally concerned about what is happening in this country and the Mail & Guardian is a lifeline for me.

There were several articles on Marikana in the paper last week (June 19), and I would like to express my sympathy for the many relatives of those who died and who have suffered great sadness and hardship. They have waited nearly three years for the Farlam commission to conclude and to release a report so that they can have some closure on the deaths of their loved ones.

If we need any confirmation of the fact that Number One cares nothing for the ordinary people of this land, the long delay between the handing over of the commission’s report to the presidency and the promised release of it to the public is proof positive that he is much more concerned about the implications for himself and his Cabinet than for the victims of the tragedy.

This is a disgrace. It is shocking that we have to witness the utter heartlessness of our leadership. – Rosemary Sundgren, Somerset West

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