Cape farmers back Cyril Ramaphosa, but grill him on business challenges
Prominent large-scale farmers operating vineyards in the Cape winelands and other commercial farms on Tuesday expressed confidence in the leadership of ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, but some raised serious issues affecting their businesses.
The farmers met Ramaphosa at a public meeting that lasted almost three hours at the Beyerskloof Wine Estate in Stellenbosch.
The Western Cape ANC branch said the meeting took place at the request of producers behind leading brands including Kanonkop and Simonsig wines and Morgan Beef.
“The Bible says presidents and kings are appointed by the Lord. Mr President‚ you’re also anointed ... David in the Bible was first anointed and then he was appointed‚ then he wrote the psalms. Mr President‚ I know that you’re going to write a lot of psalms for SA and it’s going to be a lot of excellent psalms‚” said Beyerskloof owner and programme director Beyers Truter.
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Another prominent farmer‚ Chris Steenkamp‚ also showered Ramaphosa with praise. “We like you‚ we trust you and we respect you‚” he told the president.
Former Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool‚ who is the ANC elections chief in the province‚ also said Ramaphosa had been “anointed” to lead.
But other farmers raised grave issues affecting their businesses, including red tape that delays approval of business expansion plans by years. They also raised the National Ports Authority’s apparent failure to provide security of tenure to companies renting buildings at Cape Town harbour.
Commercial farmers lobbied Ramaphosa to introduce initiatives to support wine exporters to create more jobs. The industry employs about 300‚000 people.
Ramaphosa said that if re-elected on May 8 he would see to it that red tape was reduced. “I want the bureaucratic process to be cut by 50%. If it’s 30 days‚ it should be reduced to 15 days.”
“Red tape puts the brakes on the very wheels of our economy. Quite often‚ there is a reason why they should take so long. It’s often because people want something from ‘under the table’‚” he said.
Ramaphosa asked the farmers to trust him with their vote‚ saying he was an action-orientated man who would strictly manage the performance of cabinet ministers he appoints.
“If you ever wanted someone who is serious about performance‚ you are looking at that person right now‚” he said.
He told the farmers not to fear the country’s land-reform programme‚ saying the constitution compelled government to protect the interests of all citizens. “The land-reform process is something we must never fear. The constitution (compels) us to ensure that there’s security of tenure for everyone‚” he said.