by Ismail Obaray – DA Spokesperson of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform
Date: 17 October 2017
Type: Press Statement
While the DA welcomes last week’s declaration of disaster for the Pixley Ka Seme and Namaqualand districts by Premier Sylvia Lucas amidst the ongoing drought conditions in the Northern Cape, we are calling for the speedy processing of the declaration by all involved bodies.
The drought has long passed the stage where mere rainfall will save the situation. Due to prolonged drought conditions, the agricultural sector remains in a critical state and its very survival necessitates a long term commitment of additional assistance from government, as farmers are under severe financial strain, grazing lands need time to recover and breeding herds need time to reproduce.
Due to them not taking the drought conditions seriously and as a result of administrative bungles, the provincial government in the past was slow to declare the drought conditions in the Northern Cape a disaster. This caused irreparable damage to the agricultural sector.
The agricultural sector in the province simply cannot afford any more delays, whether due to poor judgement or bureaucratic bungles, in the allocation of additional resources to drought stricken farmers.
The effects of the prolonged drought have already claimed a countless number of livestock, not to mention the tragic loss of human lives of tormented farmers who buckled under the severe stress of having to helplessly watch their animals suffer and having to provide for their families under such trying times.
Institutions and individuals have stood up to assist farmers in their personal capacity, by donating fodder and fuel to transport it, because they comprehend the seriousness of the drought. We appreciate their help but sadly it is not enough.
We only hope that the ANC government grasps the magnitude of the situation and proceeds with haste in availing additional resources before it is too late to resuscitate a number of farming ventures, belonging to both emerging and smallholder farmers.
The DA will write to the National Minister of Agriculture, Senzeni Zokwana, highlighting the plight of the Northern Cape.
We will also request Minister Zokwana to ensure that not a cent of drought relief money is again wasted on tenderpreneurs. The last time the National Department availed R25 million to the province for drought relief, almost a third of the funding that was intended for the procurement of feed was paid to an individual contractor. This simply cannot happen again – disaster funding must not be hijacked to enrich “middle men” contractors at the expense of food security for the nation.
DA Spokesperson of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform
082 380 2128
Shelley De Witt
082 847 1387