Africa Check: Ramaphosa got it wrong on land, oranges and chickens

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the 2021 State of the Nation address on 11 February. Picture: GCIS

Africa Check established that the industry reported investing R1.1 billion into upgrading and improving production, not R800 million as the president stated.

While President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation address broadly passed Africa Check’s factual test, he was however fouled on the number of additional chickens slaughtered each day.

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Ramaphosa was not only found to have understated the amount invested by the sector through the implementation of the poultry master plan but also the additional number of birds slaughtered due to the investment.

“Through the implementation of the poultry master plan the industry has invested R800 million to upgrade production. South Africa now produces an additional 1 million chickens every week,” Ramaphosa said last week.

Africa Check established that the industry reported investing R1.1 billion on upgrading and improving production, not R800 million as the president stated.

SA Poultry Association general manager Izaak Breitenbach told Africa Check that he had supplied Ramaphosa’s office with the statistic, which the association obtained from an audit of chicken producers.

“The slaughter numbers that we had pre-Covid-19 in March last year was 19.6 million birds per week…we are now slaughtering just above 21 million birds per week. And that is the increase resident Ramaphosa is talking about,” he said.

The president was not so lucky with oranges either after Africa Check found his claim that “in 2020, [SA] became the world’s second-largest exporter of citrus” unproven.

His acting spokesperson, Tyrone Seale, told Africa Check the claim was based on data from the Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa.

In 2020, the association published a report on industry statistics but only includes data for the 2019 export season and it shows that in 2018-19, South Africa exported 2.1 million tons of fresh citrus.

South Africa was also the second-largest exporter of fresh citrus during the 2017-18 season, exporting 1.9 million tons.

Justin Chadwick, the association’s chief executive, told Africa Check that “there are a number of different sources of data…our information manager goes through all these sources to get an idea of the numbers”.

Africa Check also found the president’s claim that “to date government has redistributed over 5 million hectares of land” unproven.

The most recent publicly available figures from the department show that 4 847 596 hectares of land were redistributed between 1994 and March 2018.

But Nkanyiso Gumede, a researcher at the Institute for Poverty, Land, and Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape, told Africa Check that despite the lack of recent statistics, the president’s claim sounded plausible.

“It is possible that we are now at over 5 million because annual redistribution averages around 100 000 hectares,” he said.

LAND

The president also got land restitution figures wrong, with his claim that 2.7 million hectares had been transferred through the land restitution process found to be outright incorrect.

Africa Check said a report from the department of agriculture, rural development and land reform states that 3 483 269 hectares of land was redistributed between 1995 and 2018.

For the 2018-19 financial year, the commission reported transferring 177 623 hectares of land to beneficiaries, with this figure lower during the 2019-20 financial year when only 52 955 hectares of land was transferred.

This equates to a total of 3 713 847 hectares of land that has been restored since 1995 and thus significantly higher than Ramaphosa’s figure of 2.7 million.

Sipho Mabena

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