The world has been plunged into crisis due to the deadly and devastating global pandemic, COVID-19. Never before has our country faced such a respiratory disease, which necessitated us to go into lockdown from the end of March until now. The resultant impact on the economy has been cataclysmic, with many companies being forced to close shop and many people losing jobs. The much-anticipated SASTA Congress had to be cancelled due to COVID-19, but webinars will continue.
As a caring and patriotic industry, we decided to join forces with other companies, organisations and individuals by making a R5 million contribution to the Solidarity Fund, which was established by President Cyril Ramaphosa to respond to the crisis caused by the global pandemic. The industry’s donation is mostly targeting the less fortunate who live in the sugarcane growing provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. The industry has also partnered with the Department of Social Development to alleviate the plight of the poor through sugar donations during this difficult time.
In an unprecedented development, the South African Sugar Association has an Independent Chairperson. Chartered accountant Sindi Mabaso-Koyana is the inaugural Independent Chairperson of SASA. She is also the first ever woman and African female to chair SASA! The highly regarded businesswoman brings a wealth of compliance, finance, governance and risk management experience to the industry.
Another major moment for the industry has happened – all stakeholders have given the Sugarcane Value Chain Master Plan for 2030 a thumbs-up. The critical master plan is aimed at ensuring a growing and thriving industry. This breakthrough could have not come at a better time or moment, the industry is currently in dire straits due to a number of serious challenges which are threatening its existence and sustainability. One of the apex priorities of the plan is the optimisation of the local market, diversifying into fuel ethanol and electricity, crop diversification and innovation. It is no longer business as usual. The phased approach to the evolving master plan is hoped will bring the industry back from the precipice.
The industry is under the educational microscope – the sector and KwaZulu-Natal are the main focal areas for the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) Grade 12 Geography final examination for this year. Earlier this year, SASA was invited to deliver a presentation on the industry at the national IEB Conference at Birchwood Conference Centre, Gauteng. As part of the “new normal” of doing things, SASA continues giving virtual presentations and talks when requested to do so.
The South African Sugar Journal would like to wish all those who have tested positive for COVID-19 a speedy recovery, we also extend our condolences to families who have lost loved ones to the pandemic. Let us continue to take all the necessary precautionary measures and obey all the lockdown regulations which are in place to arrest the spread of Coronavirus.
External Affairs Director
South African Sugar Association