COMMENT ON EC RURAL DEVELOPMENT BUDGET AND POLICY SPEECH: ALLOCATIONS MUST BE MONITORED

The MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Zoleka Capa, tabled her budget and policy in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature this morning. My comments on her speech are below.

The department’s policy speech, delivered by the MEC, Zoleka Capa, in the legislature today, was full of inconsistencies in terms of budget allocation. For some activities there is not budget allocation. This means the portfolio committee will not be able to hold the department accountable. Agriculture is one of the main economic activities in the Eastern Cape and is therefore a vital aspect for job creation, growth and prosperity in this province. Madam MEC, we have to look after it, nurture it and help it grow.

Red tape by the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Affairs is affecting farmers negatively and the department’s latest policy of “bulk buying” will cause projects in the province to collapse due to long waiting periods.

One cannot help but feel that the MEC is biased towards the OR Tambo region, where she was the mayor before she became MEC.

The allocation for the so-called revitalization of irrigation schemes will be monitored closely by the DA this year. Every year an allocation is made, as in the case of the Ncora Irrigation Scheme, but the scheme remains stagnant and the money is no-where to be found.

The DA welcomes the allocation made to the Majola Tea Estate which will receive R5 million. We can only hope that there will not be a repeat of last year, when the estate was allocated money which it never received. The allocation of R60 million for the revamping of the Magwa Tea Estate is positive, but we all know that financial monitoring and management of the estate has been weak. The department must heed previous calls by this legislature to come up with plans to make these estates viable and sustainable: they cannot remain a bottomless pit, the money must be spent appropriately.

Money allocated by the department must be managed and monitored.