The Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, must act with haste to secure national funding for our drought-stricken farmers and municipalities, now that the ongoing drought has been declared a national disaster.
This is a victory for long-suffering farmers and residents who have joined us in the fight to have the province declared a drought disaster area.
There is now no more room for excuses from the Premier. Dr Mmaphaka Tau, the Head of the National Disaster Management Centre, has declared that due to the ongoing drought conditions in the Eastern Cape, as well as in the Northern Cape, Western Cape, and others, the ongoing drought qualifies as a national disaster.
It is now imperative that Premier Mabuyane and the Provincial Treasury make representations to National Treasury to secure much-needed drought relief funding for our farmers and municipalities.
Having recently toured the areas worst affected by the drought in our province, it is clear that the veld has deteriorated to such an extent that it has almost become impossible to continue with farming operations in certain areas.
Many farmers are also experiencing severe water shortages as boreholes and fountains have now also started drying up, due to a depleted groundwater table.
In many instances, farmers have depleted all of their life savings, cashed in retirement annuities or bonded their farms in a bid to have access to much-needed funding to keep their farms a going concern. Unfortunately, many farmers are facing financial ruin and will undoubtedly be unable to continue with their farming operations.
The Democratic Alliance is calling on Premier Mabuyane to facilitate an early adjustments budget so that much-needed funds can be redirected to assist struggling farmers and municipalities that are in dire need.
The DA will continue to put pressure on the government to meet its obligations to the people and will be closely monitoring the disbursement of any drought relief funding received.