Durban — KwaZulu-Natal has begun positioning itself as the largest exporter of cannabis following the passing of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill by the National Assembly last Wednesday.
This story first appeared on IOL on 20 November 2023.
Welcoming the news, Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Siboniso Duma said the passing of the bill paved the way for the unlocking of R107 billion in investment into the local industry.
He said the province wanted to be the leading exporter of the product and was preparing its agencies to get ready to assist the emerging small players.
“We welcome the passing of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill by the National Assembly and we are confident that the National Council of Provinces will move with speed to ensure that the bill is adopted or, where necessary, changes are urgently made before further submission to the president for his approval,” said Duma.
He said the KZN government recently held a two-day cannabis summit and expo in Bergville, in Okhahlamba Local Municipality.
Duma said the local industry had an estimated value of R107 billion, and the province was championing radical interventions to ensure that communities got a slice of this. He announced that his department was planning to conduct roadshows to ensure that rural communities of Msinga, Impendle, Mzimkhulu, eShowe and others were involved in the export of cannabis.
Duma said his department, entities such as Trade and Investment KZN, Dube Trade Port and Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), the Moses Kotane Institute and KZN Growth Fund Trust were ready to play a role in driving the cannabis market and ensuring the province’s goal to become the largest exporter was realised.
The MEC said Trade and Investment KZN was geared to facilitate and bring in investors while Dube Trade Port and RBIDZ would assist with agro-processing facilities and access to land. The Moses Kotane Institute would be roped in for research purposes, and the KZN Growth Fund had set aside funding starting from about R20 million for a black industrialist programme.
Ithala had a mandate to assist emerging entrepreneurs such as co-operatives and SMMEs.
Speaking on behalf of the residents of Okhahlamba, businessman Sipho Ndaba hailed the passing of the bill, saying the Bergville community was celebrating the milestone since it meant the 22 people who were hanged by the apartheid government for resisting the destruction of their product by police did not die in vain.
Ndaba urged the government to ensure that the community not only provided raw dagga, but were also involved in the cannabis by-product industry. Bergville is known as the largest producer of dagga in the province, followed by Umzimkhulu.
“We are happy with the latest developments on legalising the production of dagga. The development is more significant to the people of Bergville, whose sons and daughters laid down their lives for the legalisation of the plant,” said Ndaba.
On March 21, 1957, the government hanged 22 locals who fought and killed five policemen who had come to destroy dagga plantations in the area.
Last year, Okhahlamba Local Municipality leadership organised the exhumation of the 22 locals’ remains so they could be reburied in their home soil.