9 July 2018.
Hundreds of people marched with FairPlay to the Department of Trade and Industry in Pretoria, including ANC and DA politicians, The South African Canegrowers Association, the South African Sugar Association, the South African Farmers Development Association (SAFDA), and the South African Sugar Millers Association.
More than a million people depend on the sugar industry for their livelihoods, according to South African Sugar Association chairman Suresh Naidoo. It is estimated that the South African sugar industry creates about 85 000 direct jobs and 350 000 indirect jobs.
“Jobs within the industry are at risk due to the unprecedented high volumes of sugar imports entering our shores, resulting in a major loss of South African local market share.” Imports in the 2017/2018 season amounted to more than 500 000 tonnes.
“This is equivalent to the production of three milling companies, together with the jobs they create as well as the farmers that supply these milling companies,” said Naidoo.
As small farmers shared their struggle, the ANC’s Senzo Mchunu slammed Coca-Cola for importing sugar instead of supporting local producers. FairPlay founder Francois Baird called for more flexible tariff protection.
Director general at the Department of Trade and Industry, Lionel October, accepted the memorandum on behalf of minister Rob Davies. He told protesters the government understood the plight faced by the industry “We know the industry is bleeding,” he said. “We had a meeting three weeks ago to look at this problem… this matter will be fast-tracked.”