Ricochet News

DA: 'Chaos, uncertainty reigns with distribution of drought relief funding'

Jan 21, 2020
DA: 'Chaos, uncertainty reigns with distribution of drought relief funding'

Bhisho - The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape on Monday said that it is determined to fight for a vibrant commercial and emerging agricultural sector.

"This is why I have launched a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application relating to drought relief in the Eastern Cape," said Retief Odendaal (MPL), DA Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform.

"This has been done because of the great uncertainty over the distribution of critical drought aid to farming communities in the Eastern Cape.

"The Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) must explain what is happening with the drought relief funding, as well as the processes they have followed to identify beneficiaries."

Odendaal said that despite numerous requests to DRDAR, and to Rural Development and Agrarian Reform MEC Nomakhosazana Meth, for clarity around the drought relief aid, little to no information has been forthcoming.

"I have, on numerous occasions, stressed the importance of DRDAR keeping the portfolio committee informed as to progress made with regards to the distribution of drought aid in the province," he added.

"Now it seems we are purposely being kept in the dark!

"There has reportedly been no communication between the department and applicants for relief to confirm if their applications have been successful, feed is reportedly being distributed to districts within the province that have not been declared a disaster area, and feed purchased from suppliers do not meet specifications.

"For example, lucerne bales were distributed last week in the Sarah Baartman District municipality that were significantly underweight, weighing between 9 and 16kg a bale, while they are supposed to weigh between 20 to 25kg a bale."

Odendaal further said that there is also no evidence that the department has conducted audits to verify the livestock units of successful applicants to ensure that claims are legitimate.

"There is also evidence of irregular distribution allocations, in contravention of the department’s own policy regarding assistance ratios between commercial and smallholder farmers.

"This is why I have now lodged a PAIA Application, to request information regarding the tender processes and the contracts awarded in respect of the drought aid that has been made available to farmers in the Eastern Cape," he described.

"This application includes, but is not limited to, tender specifications, contractual agreements, price specifications, procurement plans and distributions plans with regards to the R74 million that was made available by DRDAR for drought aid in the East-ern Cape in the 2019/20 financial year.

"I have also written to MEC Meth, setting out my concerns and requesting her urgent intervention.

"This debilitating drought continues to be the single biggest threat to the people and economy of the Eastern Cape and yet DRDAR has seen fit to play 'cloak and dagger' games, opting to use feed distribution for publicity, while making no real tangible impact."

Follow more RNEWS articles, subscribe to our YouTube channel and for breaking news LIKE us on Facebook. For news on the Western Cape click here.

For great savings on life’s little pleasures visit Bargain Buys!  Know somebody who is getting married, Wedding and Function can assist.  Have kids, then you need to visit Kids Connection. Enjoy food and travel, then visit Home Food and Travel. Need assistance with an online presence, visit Agency One.