Chairperson, the UDM fully supports the proposal to introduce compulsory community service for newly qualified veterinary graduates. Working under the mentorship and guidance of professionals, both from the public and private sectors, students will learn a lot from the professionals' wealth of experience.
However, the success of the mentorship programme with professionals in private practice depends on the development of a sound public-private partnership in order to ensure the effective implementation of community service. As with other plans and policies developed in the past, the objectives of this Bill will only be achieved through implementation. Therefore, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries should deliver on its promise to organise forums that will deal with operational matters and community service programmes, as well as consultation and agreements on public-private partnership.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries should also consult traditional leaders on this programme, because this Bill targets rural communities. All agreements should be captured in a written memorandum of understanding to give all parties a core perspective of what needs to be achieved.
Finally, the stakeholders of this department and the members of this portfolio committee are all frustrated. I join the call of my colleagues for the Minister to resign.
Ukuba akabeki phantsi Sekela Mongameli ufuna imvuselelo, ubize icawa nimthandezele. Enkosi. [If she does not resign, Deputy President, she needs a revival. Call the church and pray for her.]
The MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES: Chairperson, the Bill has been extensively consulted and benchmarking with the Department of Health has been done. The Department of Health has assisted us in the manner in which we will deal with teething challenges, which we know we will be experiencing. The experiences and approaches by the Department of Health to these challenges are good examples to us for when the compulsory community service is to be implemented. In particular, we should take into consideration all the concerns that have been raised by the various communities.
I wish to also emphasise that the fact that the private practitioners who have been consulted have given their unconditional support to this Bill is quite promising.
Hon President and Deputy President, this Bill addresses the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality. The inequality between commercial and subsistence or smallholder farmers will definitely be attended to, since smallholder farmers will have the opportunity to receive veterinary services, which more often than not they cannot afford.
The matter of unemployment will also be addressed because, right now, unemployed qualified graduates are a challenge to us. We seek to use this Bill to have qualified graduates entering our system via community service. [Interjections.]
Lastly, the matter of poverty and the poor who cannot afford veterinary services will be addressed. The problems we have had, especially in certain industries like the ostrich industry, is that the post-apartheid Acts we have compel us to assist our commercial farmers, which we have done to the tune of more than R70 million. We have subsidised commercial farmers in the ostrich industry, because they have culled their ostriches. However, laws do not assist us to supplement the income of the smallholder farmers who do not cull ostriches because they are not in the Western Cape. More often than not they reside in the Eastern Cape and in the Northern Cape, where there is no virus.
This kind of law will bring in an element of equality and redress. It will also give us the opportunity to vaccinate the animals of the smallholder farmers, as well as the livestock of communities. It is these types of imbalances that we are addressing, which seemingly make it quite difficult to transform this sector. This is a sector that has belonged to certain individuals historically. I think the transformation of this sector has been challenging, but it is one that we will continue with in a steadfast manner, because we will address the poverty of the rural poor.
We would like to congratulate the Members of Parliament and the department for the sterling work done in addressing the triple challenge of inequality, unemployment and poverty. [Applause.]
Bill read a second time.