SONA a ‘repeat of cliches’
The Marijuana Board of South Africa says President Cyril Ramaphosa’s SONA was merely a cliched repeat of past promises and that cannabis reform is being undermined from within the corridors of power. In an open letter to the President on 19 February 2022, MBOSA Gauteng Secretary Ras Stephen T Khunou, accused unnamed government officials of putting the brakes on regulatory overhaul and said the Department of Trade and Industry was missing in action..
“There is a deliberate delaying tactics applied by senior Government officials who use their power to empower the elite in cannabis industry. There is no support from Department of Trade and Industry, DTI. Your government department, Mr President, refuses to officially register one National Industry Body which will monitor our local markets development and exports related to them. DTI continues to suppress local brands (from our land races and proudly South African products) and promote foreign products and foreign based research in our shores. We cannot base our market on exporting raw material and importing value added products”.
In the letter Khunou said that MBOSA “welcomes the positive energy that President applied on your speech as you gave intensive perspective on new sectors of economy in South Africa which included Cannabis and hemp industry. Kindly note that Mr President, remember that you made the same promise in your previous #SONA2020”.
NCMP has ‘little scope’ for advancing indigenous community interests
Soon after that, Mr President, we immediately witnessed many arrests and harassment of Cannabis Users by state security. To make matters worse King Khoi SA was arrested for cultivating cannabis at Union Building. All these happen right under your watch, Mr President. Your office did not even condemn the brutal police act that degraded a life of community leader. Your government, Mr President, talks with a forked tongue”.
The letter went on to say that the National Cannabis Master Plan (NCMP) had “little scope in advancing the industry and its indigenous communities”, and that the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill was being imposed on the public without taking cannabis stakeholders’ interests into account.
MBOSA said it was calling for a “proudly South African Marijuana Industry” based on the sustainable development of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS).
Khunou wrote: “Mr President, please allow me to categorically state that there is proof that there is a well-planned structural marginalization against certain community of interest. The Justice Department and its agents have failed to bring about restorative justice to Victims of Dagga Act. I am sure you are aware, Mr President, that Impi Ye Ntsango warriors are still buried like paupers at Kgoshi Mampuru Correctional service. Everyone is aware that the demonization of cannabis in our beloved land began at a time of increasing racial discrimination and rising Afrikaner nationalism. Criminalizing dagga, Mr President, as you know, was all part of digging a ditch between South Africans of different backgrounds and cultures.
Government should establish a cannabis social cohesion programme
“Mr President, just imagine, the transition from apartheid to democracy without CODESA. How can we make deals when we never address the injustice of the past and the atrocities which came with Marijuana liberation struggle? The time of clichés and populist statements must end and your office together with the office of Minister of justice and the Minister of Sport ,Arts, Culture and Recreation must lead social cohesion programmes to bring about restorative justice to the Community of interest not only in Ndwedwe or Bergville but look at national footprint of Marijuana in South Africa.
“Furthermore let us not forget that in the very same Mpondo land our traditional people are victims of glyphosate which was sprayed by state security back then.”
Khunou called on the Presidency and the Department of Art and Culture to lead a mass “Marijuana Social Cohesion” programme and invited them to attend an upcoming “Marijuana Friendly Indaba” to be held in early March.
“Lastly, please, Mr President, do you not think that is time to franchise the disenfranchised before franchising the elites?” said Khunou before signing off as “Your respectful concerned citizen”