South Africa: Lobby seeks to end sugar tax, save weakened industry

By Ashely Simango, Ray Mwareya
Posted on Wednesday, 20 April 2022 14:42

Power lines supplying electricity by stated owned Eskom run through sugar cane fields on a Tongaat Hulett farm in Shongweni
Power lines supplying electricity by stated owned Eskom run through sugar cane fields on a Tongaat Hulett farm in Shongweni, South Africa April 29, 2018. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

While South Africa’s government has delayed plans to hike the country’s controversial sugar tax to April 2023, The South African Canegrowers Association (SA Canegrowers), a lobby representing 22,000 farmers, continues to argue for a total withdrawal of the tax to support a sector in decline.

The combined pressures of ongoing drought, cheap sugar imports from Brazil and Swaziland, rising fertilizer prices and the lingering impact of riots in July 2021 – which damaged around R84m ($5.5m) worth of raw cane – continues to hamper growth in South Africa’s fragile sugar industry.

As such, additional taxes in the sector will have cane growers “fighting for their survival,” says Thomas Funke, chief executive of SA Canegrowers.

“Many of them won’t survive the sugar tax. It must be completely abandoned.”