Cele: Life not easy for those who don't work

2014-11-25 17:26
Bheki Cele (Craig Nieuwenhuizen, Beeld)

Bheki Cele (Craig Nieuwenhuizen, Beeld)

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Pretoria - Life is very difficult particularly for young people who choose not to work, Deputy Agriculture Minister Bheki Cele said on Tuesday.

"Hunger in South Africa is twofold. Some of us do not want to work, thinking that this world is a Christmas place. We have to work," Cele told reporters in Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria, after meeting a co-operative of blind farmers.

"There is also an issue of producing enough food and getting jobs for people so that they afford the food. Even if food is there, some may not have money to buy it."

Cele said government's strategies of alleviating poverty, particularly the social grant regime, were unsustainable.

"People who get grants are more than 16 million. That is not sustainable. We have to create ways where people sustain themselves. This [co-operative] is one of the ways.

"Hunger is a reality in South Africa and government is aware of it. Government would not be doing its work if it does not support such initiatives," said Cele.

‘Let’s go to work’

A culture of working hard to make a living had to be cultivated among South Africans, he said.

"Let's urge South Africans to work. If you go to any intersection, like in Sandton, there are young, healthy and jumpy young men who clean your [car] windows and insult you if you don't pay.

"Maybe if we create such co-operatives for them, I am sure they would stay [on the farming initiative] for three days and move away. Let us call all South Africans to go and work. Government has created an enabling environment for all to work," said Cele.

More than 20 members of the Ikemiseng Association of the Blind (IAB) cultivate different crops, including spinach and carrots, in a small vegetable garden.

With assistance from the SA National Council for the Blind the aged men and women till the land and sell their produce to the Pretoria community.

IAB founder Joyce Sibeko, 68, said she started the project after being moved by the plight of fellow blind citizens.

"We started doing such projects in 1995. There are many blind people around our area. We were struggling, as blind people, to sustain ourselves," said Sibeko.

Big dreams

She said the farming project had improved the fortunes of the blind.

IAB deputy president Justinus Lekhula, 69, said with improved assistance the blind had a brighter future.

"We are going to tell the deputy minister everything that we need. We have big dreams. Maybe we can have a processing plant here where blind people will be working also," said Lekhula.

"As it is, the money we get assists us. My wife and I are pensioners. We have five children and about six grandchildren. We stay with them."

He said IAB had acquired a bigger piece of land nearby but was struggling to clear the land.

A vegetable stall had been set up outside the garden and community members were buying produce.

Read more on:    agriculture  |  labour

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