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Eastern Cape stands to forfeit R643 million in drought relief: DA

Feb 3, 2020
Eastern Cape stands to forfeit R643 million in drought relief: DA

Bhisho - The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape has called on National government to intervene as the Eastern Cape stands to lose more than R600 million in relief-funding due to the provincial government not extending its Provincial State of Disaster declaration.

"I have writtento the Ministers of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to intervene," says Retief Odendaal MPL - DA Shadow MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform.

"I also extended an invitation to both ministers to visit the Eastern Cape to gain first-hand experience of how this drought has decimated the province.

"If that is impossible, I requested that Minister Didiza at least engage with the Eastern Cape MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Nomakhosazana Meth, to discuss the drought and provide advice."

Odendaal adds that in terms of Section 41 (5) (c) of the Disaster Management Act 2002 the Premier has the authority to extend the State of Disaster (which is only valid for a three month period) by means of a notice in the Government Gazette.

"This must, however, be done before the original declaration lapses.

"I wrote to Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, on the 23rd of January 2020 urging him to extend the declaration before it lapsed on Wednesday, 29 January 2020. I never received any feedback," he says.

"A day before the declaration was set to lapse, 28 January 2020, a briefing session of the EC Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) Standing Committee revealed that the Chairperson and committee members weren’t even aware that the declaration was set to lapse and that nothing is being done about it.

"The province has requested R643 million from the national government for drought relief and has made R74 million available provincially. Even if the national government provides all the requested funding, there is still a significant shortfall, with organised agriculture estimating the actual relief needed to be closer to R1.8 billion."

Odendaal says failure to qualify for Drought Aid will have disastrous consequences for our province.

"Farmers, commercial and emerging, are being destroyed and water sources to cities and towns are also drying up," he explains.

"We simply cannot afford to lose out on national Drought Funding due to Premier Mabuyane and the provincial government not understanding the full extent of the drought."

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