FOSAF NEWS - Summary of a talk given to the Mpumalanga Trout Association AGM on 7th February 2019.

View attached Document

Working out what government is going to do regarding aquaculture and, or anything else for that matter requires one to look beyond government policy documents and the promises of politicians and officials. One must also consider the decisions taken by the ANC at its national conferences and the present and future alignment of forces within the ANC that gave rise to those decisions.

The ANC popularly likes to call itself a broad church characterised by a tri partite alliance between the party itself, the trade unions and the communist party. The truth, however is that that alliance exists in name only. It ceased to play a meaningful role when crooks and communists made common cause to align with Jacob Zuma and remove Thabo Mbeki from power.

This coup d’état at Polokwane in December 2007 led in turn to the radical shift away from a mixed economy to one characterised by direct state control of natural resources and the economy that was approved by the ANC at its 53rd National Conference in Mangaung in December 2012.

Aquaculture was one of the early victims of this policy shift. The National Aquaculture Strategic Framework (NASF) that was formulated in consultation with the industry was replaced unilaterally by government with its National Aquaculture Policy Framework that was gazetted in October 2013. This document was prepared in secret without any consultation with the aquaculture industry called for the nationalisation of the right to carry engage in aquaculture. This policy document resulted in the Aquaculture development Bill which makes it a criminal offence for anyone to engage in aquaculture or the processing of products derived from aquaculture without a licence issued by government.

This move to Chinese style state capitalism had a catastrophic effect on economic growth as well as unleashing levels that corruption that have resulted in government and its state-owned enterprises being looted, almost to the point of collapse. The resultant kleptocracy very quickly lost the support of non-government trade unions, thus leading to the effective collapse of the tripartite alliance. The Communist party, though increasingly critical of Zuma and the looting used the opportunity to secure its control over the policy making in the ANC.

One sees the practical effect of this is a raft of laws and proposed laws that all serve to increase state control while reducing the rights of the ordinary citizen. The nature first movement that is in effective control of the Department of Environmental Affairs and which opposes the people first approach that is entrenched in the Constitution made common cause with this shift in policy direction. Thus, one finds that environmental laws that were made proposed or during this period also seek to increase state control over biological resources.

Natural resource development has been the victim of this witness the slow growth in aquaculture and the decline in South Africa’s mining industry. The rule of law has also been a victim as is illustrated by an increase in the number of instances the courts have taken government to task for failing to follow proper process or for otherwise ignoring laws and the rights of ordinary people.

The 54 the ANC National Conference that took place at NASREC in December 2017 resulted in a compromise that left much of Jacob Zuma’s crooks compact with the Communist party still in place. The centre left Cyril Ramaphosa was only able to defeat the looters that have come to dominate the organisational structures within the ANC by aligning himself with the Communists and the faction within the Zuma camp headed by David Mabuza. The practical result of this is that the ANC voted to continue its state capitalism project, doubling down as it were to include expropriation without compensation.

This has resulted in government redoubling its efforts to gain direct control over South Africa’s natural resources and the economy. Indications that this is so are 2018 Climate Change Bill which flouts the doctrine of separation of powers by transferring broad and discretionary legislative powers to the executive under the guise of this being a “framework law” and the Draft Biodiversity Bill which does much the same thing while limiting the public’s right to participate in law making through a meaningful consultation process. These laws must not be seen in isolation form the governments broader race based transformational agenda. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries also published a draft BBBEE strategy that will restrict ones right to the myriad of permits that are required in order to undertake various agricultural activities to those applicants who have the required BBBEE score.

It follows that government is unlikely to reconsider provisions in the Aquaculture Bill that will nationalise South Africans right to engage in aquaculture. Any time soon. This is despite the fact that it is obviously unlawful not to mention destructive of the aquaculture as a viable economic activity.

The President gave a powerful SONA in which he promised the end of corruption and a return to economic prosperity. But as Julius Malema said afterwards, will his party let his and will he survive if he tries to do what is required to deliver on his promises? The draft ANC electoral list which will see many crooks return to office corroborates what Julius Malema is saying.

Hence the uncertainty anyone has when trying to invest in or predict South Africa’s future. Has the leopard really changed its spots and what must one do if it has not. Many South Africans are answering this question with their feet. Those who stay are left with a choice to join the bandwagon, fight or just try and survive.

The fresh water aquaculture industry and especially the fresh water aquaculture industry that predominates in the Eastern part of the country does not enjoy the luxury of that choice. Many existing farms will have to close down if the Aquaculture Bill becomes law. Those that survive will find it very difficult to survive the much higher costs that will result form the regulatory regime that government wishes to impose. Few will want to invest into the uncertain existence that the Aquaculture Bill promises. The result will be a greatly diminished industry concentrated in the hands of the very rich and politically connected.

The Chinese manage the corruption that walks hand in hand with state capitalism by executing the corrupt. Hundreds of corrupt officials and businessmen are executed every year. This is not the case in South Africa.

The official ANC electoral list will provide a better insight into the power the various factions wield within the party. But as matters presently stand, and unless the ANC is considerably weakened in the May elections, the next 5 years are likely to be a case of more of the same

So, what does the fresh water aquaculture industry do to survive these difficult times.

  1. Knowledge is king. So, the Aquaculture industry needs to ensure that its always well informed so that it can respond quickly and effectively to the challenges that face it. It must stay ahead of the game.
  2. It must be united both within the industry and across the broader range of other stockholders facing similar problems.
  3. It must have a plane that looks to build a sustainable future rather than defend the past. Helping previously disadvantaged farmers enter the industry must be part of that plan. Being informed and united are essential to the development of effective plans.
  4. It must pick it fights. The Aquaculture Bill is an obvious one. It must also look at ways at sharing the load by helping other stakeholders with their fights and accepting help in return.
  5. It must accept that there are no quick fixes. This is going to take time. While court victories are part of the process, ultimate success lies in being successfully and enjoying the support of a significant constituency who have benefited from that success.

In simple terms the aquaculture industry will know it is on the right track when government reverts to the 2012 NFAS it negotiated with the industry and stops trying to nationalise the right to engage in aquaculture.

View attached Document

Return to News