Policy alignment is now the name of the game. A ministerial committee will be formalized to bring government departments into line, while a steering committee, including non-government stakeholders will be expected to align the interests of the broader cannabis community.
The Phakisa’s Final Report sketches out the institutional arrangements that will be put in place to translate the outcomes of the recent stakeholder summit into the National Cannabis Master Plan.
The Presidency has formalized a public/private sector partnership to steer the cannabis industry forward and will assign budget and a full-time secretariat and technical team to support it.
Non-government stakeholders will form part of a Steerco, where the ‘horse-trading’ of future cannabis policy will be thrashed out. Three government working groups will be supported by private sector consultants where required. Strict time-lines and responsibilities will be implemented, and while the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) will be the lead department, chairing all the committees, ultimately the Presidency will call the shots.
For the first time, the private sector, community organizations, labour and faith groupings will all have a seat at the table of a new over-arching cannabis organization. They will have representation on Steerco, made up of “government departments, social partners and indigenous communities.”
The Phakisa’s Final Report says “The Steerco is representative of the social partners securing sufficient consensus for a programme of action and the institutional arrangements with incremental reciprocal, appropriate and detailed commitments from the private sector.”
Steerco will be chaired by the Presidency and DALRRD and will report to an inter-ministerial committee (IMC), chaired by Agriculture Minister Thoko Didizo. It will include the ministers of Justice and Correctional Services, Health, and Trade and Industry. It will be supported by a technical support committee, also chaired by DALRRD made up of the director generals of the relevant government departments.
Steerco will oversee, and receive input, from the three workstreams looking at regulatory change, science and innovation and business development. Cannabiz Africa understands that these will be comprised only of government officials.
The establishment of these new structures will be done under the auspices of Operation Vulindlela, a joint programme between the National Treasury and the Presidency to fast-track economic structural reform.
The Phakisa says there will be “Executive oversight and intervention to secure implementation” and “strong terms of reference with clear roles, responsibilities, and accountability."
It says there will be “upward reporting and accountability to the Steerco and IMC for all assigned responsibilities and outcomes” and there will be a “re-prioritisation of government budgets as required to deliver the agreed outcomes”.
One of the clear-take outs of The Phakisa is how the Justice Department has been downgraded in the cannabis cluster, which is now firmly in the hands of the Presidency and the Agriculture department. This is a significant step towards decriminalization.