DA welcomes the declaration of the Eastern Cape as a Disaster Area

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

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes today’s gazetting of Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane’s declaration of the province as a drought disaster area.

[SEE Gazetted Declaration]

The DA has been calling on the Premier to declare the province a disaster area for months, as this will allow the national government to make much needed drought relief funding available to the province.

There is no doubt that 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.

Drought relief needs to be made available immediately.

The DA has already called for a special sitting of the portfolio committee on Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, to review the Department’s budget and reallocate funding for drought aid. A notice of motion was also tabled by the DA last week during Taking Legislature to the People, calling for the budgetary review.

We will now redouble our efforts to free up in excess of R50 million in non-core expenditure that has been identified in the Department’s budget, which could immediately be redirected to assist farmers in need.

This R50 million a drop in the ocean in the face of the drought crisis our province is experiencing, it is substantially better than the paltry R3.2 million that has been made available by the Department for drought relief to date.

The DA will also actively engage with the Premier to secure drought relief funding for the province from the national government.

The province cannot continue to delay acting while livestock are dying, and municipalities are running out of water.

We need immediate action to save our rural economy and the DA will continue to fight for the survival of our farming community.