Cape Town – Black women in the South African wine industry marched to Parliament to protest against the economic exclusion of their businesses during the development of a national wine industry strategy.
The march on Thursday was the launch of a campaign by the group calling itself Black Wine Business to demand an urgent, high-level intervention from the government, in particular, Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza.
Speaking outside the gates of Parliament where protesters handed over their petition to a provincial department official, group spokesperson Vivian Kleynhans said: “The department is not supporting black wine businesses in the South African wine industry and is largely to be blamed for the slow transformation in the sector.
“We are the pioneering black women in the wine industry. We’ve been around for 15 years. People keep asking us why we are angry. It is because creating market access locally and building the visibility of the brands in international markets is a challenge because we do not have access to infrastructure, production facilities or land on which we can grow our own grapes,” she said.
“Lack of land, production facilities – for example, a cellar, a bottling plant and infrastructure – are stumbling blocks for many businesses who must compete globally for the discerning tastes of wine critics and wine connoisseurs. Having access to land and infrastructure will give entrepreneurs full control over the wine value chain and the pricing structure of their wines.”
The provincial head of the department, Zonwabile Bastile accepted memorandums on behalf of the minister. The letters included a copy to be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“I accept the petition with a heavy heart as it is Women’s Month and I can see the women have come here with their heavy plight of unresolved issues when they should have been doing something else,” said Bastile.
“We acknowledge this problem as a department and as a government, and I will ensure this petition gets to the office of the DG,” said Bastille.