DA questions liquidation of Paprika extraction factory

Gerda Moolman, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Spokesperson of Agriculture

The Democratic Alliance is questioning the reasons behind the liquidation of the paprika extraction factory in Namaqualand and wants to know what is to become of the income generated from the auction of the factory and its equipment. This come after notice of the liquidation and online auction was recently published in a national newspaper.

The paprika project was previously hailed as one of the Northern Cape provincial government’s major job creation projects, estimated to create about 1500 jobs. At the time of its launch in 2002, paprika was dubbed “red gold” and the Northern Cape Premier of the day, Manne Dipico, reportedly told the public that he was convinced that government had not made a mistake by investing millions in the project. The project took the form of a public private partnership and saw the provincial government initially investing an amount of R17 million in the project, translating into a 25% shareholding in the factory by the 55 Goodhouse farmers. It is believed that subsequent financial contributions have also been made by government. Now, however, 10 years down the line, the project appears to have folded.

The DA remains concerned that the list of failed agricultural projects in the Northern Cape is getting longer and longer, in turn eating away at state funds and negatively affecting job creation instead of boosting it. Government tends to think that simply throwing bundles of money at agricultural projects will translate into success. Unfortunately, however, this is not so. Instead, ongoing, high level support and strategic funding is critical to the success of projects, as the majority of the beneficiaries do not possess the necessary skills to maintain such projects, let alone take them to the next level. The provincial administration thus needs to urgently start taking stock of its projects. It needs to provide adequate support to projects and it must also ensure that it receives value for money when it comes to investments.

The DA will submit a parliamentary question to Northern Cape MEC of Agriculture, Norman Shushu, in order to ascertain the reasons behind the liquidation, how much money was invested in the project by government since the launch in 2002, where the funds from the auction of the Paprika extraction factory will go to, and what impact the closure of the factory will have on unemployment. We also want to know what monitoring and evaluation systems were in place by the department, and at what stage government realized that the project was going under.

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