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Call to declare drought a provincial disaster

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"The Office of the Premier needs to get its house in order and lie on the backs of these two departments so that assistance can be forthcoming sooner rather than later”

Premier of the Northern Cape, Dr Zamani Saul

THE DA has called on the premier of the Northern Cape to declare the ongoing five-year drought a provincial disaster as a matter of urgency.

Speaking during the tabling of the budget for the Office of the Premier, the DA’s Priscilla Isaacs stated that farmers, farm workers, their families and the greater rural communities were suffering.

“Some have even taken their own lives out of despair. The ongoing five-year drought is threatening 62 000 direct and indirect jobs. On behalf of the farming community, I am again sending out another urgent call to the premier. I know the premier has every intention of officially declaring the drought a provincial disaster. But every day that this process gets delayed, the effect of the harsh drought worsens.”

Isaacs pointed out that the disaster must be gazetted so that funds can be reprioritised to assist farmers.

“The Department of Agriculture needs to get its house in order and submit documents timeously. Coghsta needs to get its house in order and make sure it follows the proper steps with disaster management. The Office of the Premier needs to get its house in order and lie on the backs of these two departments so that assistance can be forthcoming sooner rather than later,” she stated.

Isaacs also called for increased accountability within the collapsing health sector.

“The premier has indicated that he has established a health desk at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital. We appreciate this, but it is not enough. We know that reform of the provincial Health Department is not something that can happen overnight. There are, however, some quick fixes. Appointments of key health personnel can be speeded up, basic supplies can be purchased, and feedback can be provided to disgruntled employees.”

She added that the party was also still waiting for the opening of the new mental health hospital.

“The new mental hospital is due to officially open its doors to patients this month. Over the years, too many mentally ill patients have had their rights violated. Some have been kept in mixed-gender wards, some have been given once-off injections and sent home because of a lack of beds, and some have even tried to kill themselves because of a lack of treatment. They should not be denied access to adequate mental health care services any longer. We are eagerly waiting for our invitations to the opening of the hospital, to reach us within the next 18 days before October.”