Tina has her last word

2014-05-26 00:00

CAPE TOWN — She did her best for Agriculture and that is why she can leave with her head held high. Sticking to her story on the eve of the announcement of President Jacob Zuma’s new cabinet, Tina Joemat-Pettersson tried to get a last word in during an interview with sister paper Die Burger on the contributions she had made to Agriculture while the minister.

She has now been moved to the Department of Energy, and is replaced by Senzeni Zokwana, former National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) president.

But not everyone agrees with Joemat-Pettersson’s claims.

She said the sector was on a downward slope when she took over as minister.

“So I leave Agriculture with my head held high. I made more money available for research and trade and ensured bigger access to markets.”

She admitted she would have liked to do more, especially to give faster disaster aid to commercial farmers.

“But because people made out the minister as this or that and because they were focused on the personality of ‘Tina who has all the might in the word’ I got blamed for everything.

“I was attacked in a well-orchestrated attempt to make me look bad. They missed their chance … for me to do more for them.”

She also referred to the farm workers’ strike.

“I was blamed for the strike while I was the one who had to travel through the country to prevent the strikes from escalating.”

Bennie van Zyl, head of the Transvaal Landbou Union (TLU), said it was a pity that the minister had chosen to make it personal on her last day.

“It was never about her, but about the whole packet of government policy, of land and labour, which was shortsighted. We confronted her on her policies.”

Van Zyl praised Joemat-Pettersson for her “open door”. “But whether it delivered the desired results is an open question. She was also just caught up in Luthuli House policies.”

He said the next Agriculture minister will have to create advice committees with farmers so that co-operation can happen for the good of Agriculture.

Johannes Moller, head of Agri-SA, also praised her for being approachable and said there was no vendetta against her.

“She could perhaps have invested more in agricultural research.”

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