What will it take for Mabuyane to declare a provincial drought disaster?

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

What will it take for the Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, to admit that his province is facing a catastrophic water shortage and must be declared a drought disaster area?

Nelson Mandela Bay and Kouga are literally months away from dry taps. The Kouga dam is now at 4.48%. It is estimated that in two months, no more water will be able to be extracted from it.

When this happens, the Kouga municipality will lose its main water supply. KwaNobuhle in Nelson Mandela Bay will have no water at all, and farmers in the Gamtoos valley will no longer be able to water their citrus orchards.

In Hankey and Patensie the water is shut down for six hours per day, from 09:00 to 15:00. Residents are encouraged to make use of water from the tanks that have been installed in the area to relieve the pressure on the dam.

Dr Beyers Naude has been dealing with extreme drought for the past five years, with the Nqweba Dam at just 8.8%.

Across the province farmers in smaller towns such as Willowmore, Steytlerville and Aberdeen are on their knees but they have received little to no assistance from the Eastern Cape Government.

In the Ndlambe Municipality, a tender bungle for a reverse osmosis plant has resulted in many residents having to rely on water tankers to provide water to households.

But still, the Premier hesitates and refuses to declare the province a drought disaster area. He still ignores calls for a drought summit to devise a long-term strategy for the province to address the very real threat of climate change and water scarcity.

I challenge the Premier to declare the province drought disaster area as a matter of urgency.

This will allow provincial government to lobby for additional drought mitigation funding from national government to come to the rescue of the hard-hit municipalities and farmers.

This debilitating drought is one of the greatest threats to the people and economy of the Eastern Cape and a concerted coordinated effort is needed to address the ongoing challenges it poses.

Government needs to act now, if there is to be any hope to save our province and its people from this ongoing drought disaster.