DA calls on Premier to declare Province a disaster area

Issued by Retief Odendaal, MPL
Shadow MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform

Today the Democratic Alliance tabled a notice of motion publicly challenging Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane and members of the Provincial Legislature to declare the Province a disaster area.

The Eastern Cape is currently experiencing one of the most disastrous and debilitating droughts in its history with over four years of way-below-average rainfall. This period has been characterized as a once-in-a-hundred-year drought and has placed many farmers in financial ruin.

The notice of motion, which was tabled at Taking Legislature to the People in Komani today, follows Premier Mabuyane announcing that he would be declaring the province a drought disaster area, but to date he has failed to do so.

[Download Notice of Motion]

The declaration must be done, as per the requirements set out in section 35 of the Disaster Management Act of 2002 (Act No.57 of 2002). This declaration must be gazetted, and all government entities be informed.

The extended drought has led to significant job losses in the agriculture sector. Emerging farmers have been crippled by the severity of the drought.
The inaction and lack of intervention of the provincial government to declare a provincial disaster will further cause harm to not only farmers but to our provincial economy.

The motion also calls on the Department to identify at least R50 million which can be redirected as drought aid to both emerging and commercial farmers, rather than the paltry amount of R3,2 million currently allocated. I have already identified in excess of R50 million that could be cut from non-core expenditure including advertising, travel and catering.

The motion also calls for an assessment of the impact of the drought disaster to be undertaken by the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, and that this report be tabled to the portfolio committee before the end of the 2019/20 financial year, with a subsequent findings and recommendations to be debated in the house and subsequently implemented.