There is still no sign of the drought relief funding promised by the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR), with farmers in drought-stricken areas still in the dark as to whether their applications for assistance have been approved.
If we are to save our rural economy and jobs, the funds need to start flowing as a matter of urgency.
When the funding was announced, exactly a month ago today (11 November 2019), the DRDAR portfolio committee was advised that an amount of R33.8 million would be made available immediately and that the remainder would be availed after the Adjustments Appropriation was passed by the house.
The Adjustments Appropriation was passed last week, but to my knowledge, there has been no relief provided to the farmers.
Engagements with various external stakeholders has revealed no relief has been made available as yet, and they seem to be in the dark as to progress by the department in this regard.
These Eastern Cape farmers struggling under severe drought conditions have also been dealt another crippling blow with a national ban on the auction of all cloven-hooved animals following the breakout of Foot and Mouth disease in Limpopo.
[Download: Government Gazette]
The Eastern Cape has by far the largest numbers of livestock in the country. According to Stats SA, 24% of all cattle, 38% of all goats and 29% of all the sheep in the country are farmed in the Eastern Cape. Now, due to the ban, farmers are unable to sell off these animals to other areas not affected by the drought.
This means, with nearly a third of the province grappling with the drought, more than 1 million cattle, 2.1 million sheep and 600 000 goats could die of thirst and starvation.
I have written to the MEC of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Nomakhosazana Meth, to request an update regarding the drought relief, as well as an explanation for the delay in releasing the funding.
I have also submitted parliamentary questions to the MEC requesting clarity with regards to the funding.
Please find below voice clips in both English and Afrikaans from Retief Odendaal, MPL on this issue.