The tobacco farming community nationwide gathered at Vaalwater, pinning their hopes on the incoming ANC President to help ward off the illicit cigarette products’ trade threatening local jobs. Photo: TK Mashaba
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Farmers and their workforce across tobacco farmlands nationwide have pinned hopes on the rise of Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC President to ward off threats to upwards of 10 000 jobs.
Speaking on the occasion of a farm tour at Vaalwater on Thursday, 1 February, Tobacco Instirutute of South Africa national chairman, Francois van der Merwe, said the Ramaphosa narrative had triggered hopes for the industry.
The BEAT reported on 2 February that around 10 000 jobs on tobacco farms across the country were under threat, as a direct result of the illicit trade of cigarettes, mainly from Zimbabwe.
Vaalwater as a nerve centre for a mainstream media news conference was a symbolic venue in that truckloads of illicit cigarette products were often interrupted by the authorities, on the stretch of the N1 South between Polokwane and Pretoria.
Van der Merwe said Vaalwater was a special case because there was almost nothing in terms of employment prospects in the area, with tobacco farms absorbing many of the locals.
He said with the acsendency of Ramaphosa to high office, the industry had, like other sections of society across the spectrum, triggered hopes of renewal.
The Limpopo Tobacco Processors (LPO) had warned in an earlier statement the illicit tobacco products were harmful to the region’s economic growth and development.
Van der Merwe said these effects were evident at tobacco farms nationwide.
Commercial and emerging farmers converged for the rather picturesque tour of the affected tobacco farms, which the LPO said were feeling the effect of the illicit trade, through decreased demand, and declining profits.
2 months ago 08 February 2018