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Hope for M300 million wool consignment stuck in SA

Bereng Mpaki

PROMINENT wool and mohair farmer, Khotsang Moshoeshoe, is confident that a solution will soon be reached over the farmers’ dispute with the government over the 21 000 bales of wool stuck in South Africa for the past five months.

This follows Thursday’s talks between farmers’ representatives and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

The wool, worth an estimated M300 million, is destined for the Chinese market. It has been stuck at the Port Elizabeth harbour since January 2020 due to the agriculture ministry’s refusal to issue the South African broker an export certificate to export it to China on behalf of the farmers. Brokerage of the wool was handled by South African brokers BKB.

The ministry refused to issue the export certificate on the grounds that a food and mouth outbreak at that time in South Africa could contaminate the wool. The government argued that it would not allow the wool to be exported because if contaminated by foot and mouth, this would affect future exports to the Asian giant.

The farmers however, maintained that the wool was clean and the government was only sabotaging them for successfully challenging a 2018 monopoly in brokering wool and mohair awarded to Maseru Dawning, a company controlled by controversial Chinese businessman, Stone Shi.

Since then the wool has been stuck in Port Elizabeth but Mr Moshoeshoe is confident that it could finally be cleared after Thursday’s talks.

“We are on track to finding a solution to this long- standing problem of the 21 000 bales of wool stuck in Port Elizabeth,” Mr Moshoeshoe told the Sunday Express this week.

“We are confident the problem will soon be addressed so that farmers receive payments for their produce. We had frank talks with the ministry officials on Thursday and it went quite well.”
He, however, refused to reveal the specifics of what had been agreed for fear of jeopardising the ongoing negotiations.

Dr Relebohile Mahloane, the acting director of the livestock department in the agriculture ministry, said he could not comment on the issue as it was “highly sensitive”.
“This is a highly sensitive matter that is being resolved through by a committee,” he said.

On Tuesday, Agriculture and Food Security Minister Tefo Mapesela told the National Assembly that his ministry had established a sub committee made up of representatives of the civil society, brokers and other government ministries to find a solution to the wool stuck in Port Elizabeth.

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