ANC Govt starves drought stricken WC farmers of R88m in promised aid

PICEDITOR-AGEBerverley Schäfer MPP – DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture, said in a debate to discuss a catastrophe namely a drought that the ANC Government fails to acknowledge and fails to declare a national disaster.

Research shows that El Nino conditions have caused the lowest recorded rainfall between October 2015 and January 2016 across many regions of Southern Africa in the past 35-years with the hottest temperatures measured in the past 10 years.

The definition of drought relates to how much rain falls from expected rainfall between October 2015 and January 2016 across many regions of Southern Africa in the past 35-years with the hottest temperatures measured  in the past 10 years.

The definition of drought relates to how much rain falls from expected or “normal” to being insufficient in an area. Researchers state that we are currently at stage 4 – a socio economic drought, which will have severe impact on environment and communities regarding access to food and water.

During the 1991-1992 drought, the last time South Africa experienced a severe drought, a government white paper on disaster management said 49 000 agricultural jobs and 20 000 non-agricultural jobs were lost.

Farmers in Southern Africa are at the frontline of this catastrophe, and are arguably the worst affected. Not only is there financial ruin, but also a sense of hopelessness and a total loss of dignity. Agri-workers and farmers face one of the worst droughts in our recent history.

On the West Coast and in the Karoo there are almost 400 settlements affected by the drought. In Western Cape are In total almost 1600 settlements are affected by the drought. The National Minister of Agriculture says there’s no national disaster, but there are more than 28000 settlements are suffering across South Africa.

Minister Zokwana’s only response has been an announcement of a measly R381 million for the entire country’s need. Organisations such as AgriSA have reported that the current drought is of such great intensity that it is beyond the ambit of any farmer to mitigate despite his or her resource base.  It is estimated that it will take at least three years for farmers to recover from this devastating drought.

It is further estimated that this drought will result in an 11% food price increase before the end of 2016 which will negatively affect the consumer. This will hit the poorest of the poor in our country first.

Studies on these issues shows that the agricultural sector could lose up to 30% of its commercial farmers and 80% of small scale farmers if government does not assist with funding mechanisms.

The Western Cape has requested R88 million from National Government in drought relief. However, the Western Cape waits patiently for the national Department of Agriculture to officially gazette the West Coast and Central Karoo Witzenberg, Prince Albert and Oudtshoorn and two District Municipalities as drought disaster areas.

Previously it took two years before the national government provided emergency drought assistance. If they drag their feet much longer this time around, we will face a full-blown disaster.

Speaker, The people of this Province cannot wait any longer. Equally so, the people across South Africa, who are affected by the drought, cannot wait either. Enough is enough! We are a ticking time bomb! Give us our R88 million!

Speaker, the DA calls on national government in accordance with the National Disaster Management Act (NDMA), to declare this drought a national disaster!