FAILED PROJECTS: MEC for agriculture Norman Shushu will be asked questions by the DA. Picture: Zandisile Luphahla
MEC for agriculture Norman Shushu is expected to face some tough questions from the opposition in the provincial legislature in Kimberley about the liquidation of the paprika extraction factory in Namaqualand.
Questions have been raised about the reasons behind the liquidation after notice of the liquidation was issued and an online auction notice recently published.
The department of agriculture said it would deal with the matter internally as questions raised by the opposition DA were parliamentary matters, department spokesperson Ali Diteme said.
The paprika project was previously hailed as one of the provincial government’s major job creation projects, estimated to create about 1500 jobs.
At the time of its launch in 2002, paprika was dubbed “red gold” and the Northern Cape premier of the day, Manne Dipico, reportedly told the public he was convinced the government had not made a mistake by investing millions in the project.
The project took the form of a public-private partnership and saw the provincial government initially investing an amount of R17m, translating into a 25% shareholding in the factory built by 55 Goodhouse farmers.
The DA said it is believed that subsequent financial contributions had been made by the government. Now, however, 10 years down the line, the project appears to have folded.
DA spokesperson for agriculture, Gerda Moolman, said they were concerned that the list of failed agricultural projects was getting longer and longer.
“These are eating away at state funds and negatively affecting job creation instead of boosting it. The government tends to think that simply throwing money at agricultural projects will translate into success,” Moolman said.
“Unfortunately this is not so. Instead, ongoing high level support and strategic funding is critical to the success of projects, as the majority of the beneficiaries do not possess the necessary skills to maintain them, let alone take them to the next level.”
She urged the provincial administration to start taking stock of its projects. “It needs to provide adequate support to projects and it must ensure that it receives value for money when it comes to investments.”
Moolman said the DA would submit a parliamentary question to Shushu in order to ascertain the reasons behind the liquidation, how much money had been invested by the government since its launch in 2002, where the funds from the auction of the factory would go and what impact the closure of the factory would have on unemployment.