Ramaphosa urges tra­di­tional lead­ers to help lift the econ­omy

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - ZINTLE MAHLATI

DEPUTY Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa has en­cour­aged tra­di­tional lead­ers to take a lead­ing role in re­viv­ing sites in ru­ral ar­eas that have the po­ten­tial to help bol­ster the coun­try’s stag­nant econ­omy.

He said sec­tors such as agri­cul­ture pro­vide the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to be an “oa­sis of an in­clu­sive and di­ver­si­fied econ­omy” which could help cre­ate much-needed jobs.

Ramaphosa was speak­ing at the last day of the Tra­di­tional Lead­ers Ind­aba in Joburg yes­ter­day.

With the un­em­ploy­ment rate hav­ing hit record highs last seen in 2003 – at 27.7% – Ramaphosa said the chal­lenge to get many into jobs be­longed to ev­ery­one to come up with in­no­va­tive solutions.

“This is a task that also rests on your (tra­di­tional lead­ers) shoul­ders, be­cause for gen­er­a­tions you were the peo­ple who went to each house­hold to find out if peo­ple were work­ing.

“You are deeply con­nected with our peo­ple,” Ramaphosa said. The National De­velop- ment Plan states that about 1 mil­lion jobs could be cre­ated from the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

He touted var­i­ous govern­ment poli­cies and in­vest­ments aimed at boost­ing struggling small farm­ers.

Among these is a skills de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme tar­geted at black youth and train­ing of­fered to small farm hold­ers who were pro­vided with re­sources which would al­low them to ac­cess mar­kets.

He said coun­tries such as Ethiopia pro­vided the coun­try with a key ex­am­ple of how a struggling agri­cul­tural sec­tor was pro­pelled into the big­gest con­trib­u­tor to that coun­try’s GDP.

“The govern­ment is more fo­cused on grow­ing the eco­nomic value of small­holder agri­cul­ture which will bring more com­mu­ni­ties out of poverty.

“Some of the ini­tia­tives spear­headed by the govern­ment re­quire chang­ing old prac­tices and adopt­ing new meth­ods of look­ing af­ter live­stock and par­tic­i­pat­ing in pro­grammes that build ca­pac­ity and skills to im­prove small­hold­ings,” he said.

He also en­cour­aged tra­di­tional lead­ers to pre­serve tra­di­tional rit­u­als, but also to bridge the gap be­tween mod­ern ad­vances and old cus­toms.

This was cru­cial when deal­ing with health is­sues such as HIV/Aids and TB where lead­ers could lead the charge against stig­mas caused by these epi­demics.

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