archive > The right to sufficient food > Access to food > Call for wider policy consultation

Call for wider policy consultation

On 22 August 2014, the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security for the Republic of South Africa was gazetted. If this is news to you, you’re not alone. The Policy was not subject to any public consultation and is utterly deficient in its identification of problems with the food system in South Africa and its failure to come up with solutions. The cover page of the gazetted version states that an implementation plan for the policy will be “consulted widely”.

In September 2014, a Food and Nutrition Security Draft Policy Implementation Plan was produced. The Implementation Plan is not yet available publicly although it can be requested. The Department of Agriculture has indicated, in response to questions from a small group of civil society organisations involved in promoting the realization of the right to food, that the consultation process on the Implementation Plan will consist of two consultation sessions – one on 3 March 2015 for academics and researchers and one on 4 March 2015 for civil society. Both consultations will take place in Johannesburg. No public awareness has been raised about these consultations and at the time of writing, no formal invitations have been sent. We were further advised by the Department of Agriculture that the intention is for the Policy and Implementation Plan to operate as from the new financial year in April 2015. With these short timelines, it seems that there is no intention for the consultation process to be wider than two sessions in one province or for the outcomes of the consultation sessions to be meaningfully incorporated into the Policy or Implementation Plan.

The move by the State to produce a policy on food and nutrition is an important one. The right to food is the only socio-economic right not to have been legislated on and the policies on the right to food have historically been flawed, contradictory and unimplemented, with no accountability. The commencement of a policy-making process is important and to be welcomed but policy must to respond to the needs of affected people and tackle systemic inadequacies, particularly in the case of food where the systemic inadequacies lead to widespread hunger.

The obligation on the State to consult on policy and legislation is clear and for good reason. Meaningful consultation ensures that policy and legislation responds to needs and gives an opportunity for people to participate in democracy. This is required by section 195 of the Constitution. The failure by the State to hold any public consultation on the Policy and to rush the public consultation on the Implementation Plan runs contrary to its democratic and constitutional obligations.

While consultation is an obligation in itself, the content of the Policy and Implementation Plan show the desperate need for consultation in this case. Some of the many shortcomings of the Policy and Implementation Plan are as follows:

  • The Policy and Implementation Plan fail to address the concentration of power in the food chain and the distributional problems embedded in a food system that produces enough food but leaves a quarter of the population hungry.
  • The Implementation Plan sets objectives and goals without costing or consideration of how these objectives and goals will be met. Objectives that are not budgeted or clearly thought through are destined to fail.
  • Lines of accountability and coordination between involved government departments, while frequently referred to, are far from clear. This shortcoming is recognized to be a key hindrance to realization of the right to food around the world and it is vital that clarity is sought when new policy is made.
  • The Policy and Implementation Plan envisage a Technical Multi-Stakeholder Forum to draw civil society, including research institutions and donors, into the implementation of the Policy, but this body will be chaired by the Department of Agriculture, whose role and powers remain unclear.

The failure on the part of the State to consult on the Policy and Implementation Plan and the multiple shortcomings of these documents require that civil society organizations, researchers and interested individuals stand together to demand a thorough and properly consulted policy-making process to realize the right to food. It is for this reason we call on civil society to give support to the call for consultation on the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security and its Implementation Plan. 

Policy and law making on the right to food has been a long time coming and it is important that we make sure that the outcome meets the needs of the country.

To support the call for consultation on the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security and its Implementation Plan please email Sasha Stevenson on as soon as possible and before 5pm on 26 February 2015

Copies of the Policy and Implementation Plan are attached below.

Policy on Food and Nutrition Security – 22 August 2014

Food and Nutrition Security Implementation Plan – 19 DECEMBER 2014

+ Comments

  • Jane Battersby says:

    This process of “public consultation” is fundamentally flawed. The documents fail to engage the extensive local literature and expertise on food and nutrition security and policy engagement. The absolute absence of consideration of the high levels of urban food insecurity and its causes, and therefore appropriate policy responses is highly problematic.

  • Shelli Marx says:

    we need a wider policy consultation

  • anele wondo says:

    Thanks for recommandation on this. Food for thought..

  • Linda Mndayi says:

    More consultation is required

  • hilda adams says:

    We demand public consultation on this important policy

  • Rena Kessa says:

    A wider consultation on the food policy.

  • Margaretha Wegerif says:

    We demand a through and properly consulted policy-making process. The right to food is imperative for all peoples and any policy needs to be available for consultation because it is implemented.

  • Sue Schonken says:

    Whenever a Government document is rushed through, bypassing correct consultative processes, or public participation platforms, the only conclusion to come to, is that some serious hidden agendas are in play. Is this a covert way of pushing the GMO agenda? Why no transparency. What are they scared of? Secrecy always arises from corrupt intentions.

  • janine golden says:

    There has been no public awareness of this plan and I object to it

  • Stacey Reyneke says:

    It is absolutely shocking that something that affects every South African can be kept as quiet as this has been. Surely something of this magnatude should involve great consultation and participation from everyone it affects?

  • Dr E Schultz says:

    I strongly support the call for consultation.

  • Isabel pereira says:

    Support for national consultation, empower people

  • Glenne Meldrum says:

    This is important because of the need to call to account those who are supposed to be acting in the country’s interest but who behave as if they are accountable to no-one. In a climate of rampant fraud and corruption it makes one suspicious of the motives behind trying to hide the process through the lack of consultation – and calls to mind the e-toll saga

  • Janet O'Donoghue says:

    STOP all this rushing of legislation affecting our people through without due legal process!!! We have seen what you are trying to do.

  • Sue Viljoen says:

    Consultation is essential. Why sneak a policy through? The government should be shouting from the roof tops ‘finally we are creating a framework for food & nutrition security”

  • Paula Cardoso says:

    As the Trust for Community Outreach and Education, an organisation that works with rural people and small-scale food producers in several South African provinces, we add our voices to many others calling on the South African government to ensure wide and public consultation on the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security and its Implementation Plan.
    Food production and consumption of healthy food is the most basic and essential need to life and must not at any time be left solely in the hands of policy makers, their advisors and the powerful multinational corporations and food retailers that shape government’s policies.

  • suzanne price says:

    i call for wider food policy consultation

  • Webster says:

    Is it appropriate for munipality to disconnect services for schools in case of non payment

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