March 16, 2014
Urgent calls for proper consultation on SA’s Food Policy
Civil Society Organisations have repeated their calls for meaningful government consultation on South Africa’s food policy following information that only five organisations have been invited to give input at public sessions tomorrow (March 17, 2015).
On 4 March 2015 over 20 organizations called on the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to consult meaningfully on the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security and its Implementation Plan. At that stage, no consultation sessions had been scheduled.
On the afternoon of 11 March 2015, invitations were sent to five civil society organizations for a consultation session less than a week later on 17 March 2015. The Concept Note accompanying the invitation indicated that this would be the only civil society consultation session in the country and that only five organizations were invited. These are 5 organizations in a country with more than 50 million people 26% of which face hunger on a regular and in some cases everyday basis. Over 13 million people facing hunger who have been ignored in the drafting of a policy which is meant to address their needs and now have also been left out of the planning process for the Implementation Plan of the policy.
Oxfam, SECTION27, Studies in Policy and Inequality Institute (SPII) and Cooperative and Policy Alternative Centre (COPAC) responded to the DAFF noting the short notice given and the inadequacy of the planned consultation process given the importance of and need for policy and legislation on the right to food.
“People living in poverty and facing hunger have a right to be part of crafting the solution to the challenges that they face. And yet, we have a Government Department that has not heeded the need for wide public consultation instead choosing to host “secret” consultations where only a few are asked to participate,” said Nokutula Mhene, Economic Justice Campaigns Advisor at Oxfam.
“Instead, it seems like we will have public consultations without the public,” said Sasha Stevens, attorney at SECTION27.
No public awareness campaign has been conducted to empower people with knowledge about the right to food and the obligations that it creates, and the DAFF appears not to intend to conduct consultation sessions in other parts of the country and has failed to invite a diverse range of properly identified organizations, communities and individuals to the consultation that it has planned. Perhaps most importantly, the planned consultation is only on the Implementation Plan as the Policy itself was rushed through Cabinet last year without public consultation.
DAFF’s approach to the vital issue of food policy is inadequate and flies in the face of participatory democracy. As such, Oxfam, SECTION27, SPII and COPAC have again called for meaningful consultation on both the National Food and Nutrition Security Policy and the Draft Implementation Plan. They have called on DAFF to:
- Hold multiple consultation sessions across the country including in hard to reach communities who are most vulnerable to hunger;
- Undertake a public awareness campaign to raise awareness of the consultations among communities most affected by food insecurity
- Give adequate notice of consultation sessions to ensure interested parties have the opportunity to participate;
- Issue invitations to a diverse range of properly identified interested parties, including grassroots movements;
- Provide sufficient time between consultations and expected finalization of the documents for consideration and incorporation of outcomes of the consultation; and
- Consider comments and representations from the consultation with an open mind so that it informs the policy-making process.
For more interviews contact:
Sasha Stevenson, SECTION27 – tel: 011 356 4113 / 082 839 6879 / email@example.com
Busiso Moyo, Studies in Policy and Inequality Institute – 011 8330161- 2 / 072 966 2744 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Bennie, Cooperative and Policy Alternative Centre (COPAC) – tel: 011 447 1013 / 072 278 4315 / email@example.com
Nokutula Mhene, Oxfam – tel: 011 223 2440 / 076 018 4215 / NMhene@oxfam.org.uk
Zanele Sabela, frayintermedia – Tel 011 325 6353 / 0792875788 /firstname.lastname@example.org