South Africa: Rotten Harvest – How the Seeds of the Agriculture Department’s Poor Performance Were Planted

Minister Thoko Didiza has a mammoth task at hand reshaping the fortunes of the agriculture department. Its decline has long been written about and its financial dysfunction is well known. The problems are structural, functional and operational. It has no director-general, valuer-general or many of the deputy directors-general it needs to function optimally. Therein lies the source of its decay: It is missing key officials who would enforce the Public Finance Management Act and ensure accountability. That brings into question the recent undertakings to Parliament to arrest the slide.

The troubles which haunt the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development are many and predate its executive head, Thoko Didiza. Admittedly, though, there is no escaping the present reality that Didiza remains responsible for effecting a credible turnaround.

The task of improving this strategic portfolio is made trickier when taking into consideration that Didiza inherited the erstwhile departments of Rural Development and Land Reform, and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. This happened in June 2019, when the present administration took office after the May general election in the same year. Another factor complicating this already complex situation is that Forestry was removed and placed under Environmental Affairs.

In actuality, Didiza…

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