Home South African Roll-out of Presidential Employment Stimulus vouchers to help farmers suspended

Roll-out of Presidential Employment Stimulus vouchers to help farmers suspended

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The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on Thursday announced that it has suspended with immediate effect the roll-out of all Presidential Employment Stimulus vouchers meant to help subsistence farmers, due to challenges in the roll-out.

Farmworkers in a field of rooibos
Government has suspended the roll-out of all Presidential Employment Stimulus (PES) vouchers meant to help subsistence farmers. File Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

PRETORIA – The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on Thursday announced that it has suspended with immediate effect the roll-out of all Presidential Employment Stimulus vouchers meant to help subsistence farmers, due to challenges in the roll-out.

“The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development wishes to inform subsistence farmers who are beneficiaries of the Presidential Employment Stimulus (PES) vouchers of the decision to suspend all PES implementation with immediate effect until further notice. The department is reviewing, re-engineering and redesigning PES implementation, to address all challenges experienced,” said spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo.

He said the department had been inundated with complaints from beneficiaries.

“It is unfortunate that the department has received endless complaints from the PES beneficiaries and the South African community at large, regarding various challenges on the PES implementation. These implementation challenges cannot be left unattended, hence the decision by the department to temporarily halt the current implementation,” said Ngcobo.

Beneficiaries are further urged to regularly check their cell phones for updates sent by the department.

“The department had issued production input vouchers in support of subsistence producers, as part of the Presidential Employment Stimulus in South Africa,” said Ngcobo.

Last week, DA MP on the portfolio committee on agriculture, land reform and rural development Noko Masipa said her party had been flooded with concerns raised by subsistence producers who applied for, and received Presidential Employment Stimulus vouchers to help them buy inputs for this current cycle of farming.

“While we support any agricultural initiative to improve food security and create and retain jobs, the DA does not condone initiatives that empower third parties whose role in the initiative is not clear.

“Concerns raised by subsistence farmers include that on arrival at suppliers to redeem the vouchers, they are directed to the middlemen seated inside or outside the stores. These persons expect the subsistence farmers to buy the products less 27% of the price of the voucher in order that the middleman can pocket the 27% commission agreed to with the government,” Masipa said.

The DA said the commission was exorbitant.

“The most popular commission structure ranges between five percent and 15 percent, and we wonder how the government, which has enormous financial struggles, managed to agree to an exorbitant 27 percent commission structure.

“This is another example of wasteful expenditure to agree on a commission without outlining clear performance indicators by the service providers. The DA intends raising this matter at the portfolio committee and ask for the appearance of the department to explain these arrangements,” Masipa said.

The DA had called on Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza to review these arrangements with the middlemen and get more money in the hands of the producers.

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