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‘Govt’s drought relief a sham’

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“This includes dysfunctional municipalities, like Kareeberg Municipality, which has still not found a solution to its water challenges in Van Wyksvlei four years down the line.”

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THE GOVERNMENT’S R300 million drought disaster funding has been slated as a “sham”.

The DA provincial spokesperson for Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform, Reinette Liebenberg, said yesterday that the government’s “so-called concern for farmers and farmworkers in the Northern Cape, who remain detrimentally affected by the worst drought this century, will require far more determined action if anyone is to take their drought relief initiatives seriously”.

Liebenberg pointed out that while the announcement of the declaration of the drought as a provincial disaster, on the eve of the ANC’s 108th birthday celebration in Kimberley, was welcomed, the commitment to assist with R300 million disaster funding seems to be nothing more than a sham.

“According to the MEC for Agriculture, Nomandla Bloem, none of the disaster funding will be utilised for fodder for animals. At the same time, only R82 million of the bigger amount will go towards the drilling of boreholes for farmers.”

Lieberberg stated that the remaining R218 million will be pumped into ailing municipalities, who, she added “have failed dismally to upgrade their water infrastructure over the years”.

“This includes dysfunctional municipalities, like Kareeberg Municipality, which has still not found a solution to its water challenges in Van Wyksvlei four years down the line.”

Liebenberg added that with local government elections just around the corner, “government seems to have stooped so low as to abuse disaster funding to try and recover some ground in its dismally performing municipalities”.

“In other words, the ANC government doesn’t really care about the impact of the drought on farmers, farmworkers and the greater rural communities, whose economies are slowly drying up. Instead, it cares about votes and staying in power.

“Up until now, had it not been for private organisations and individuals who have provided fodder and different forms of social relief to the provincial farming community, more Northern Cape farmers would have been on the brink of collapse.”

Liebenberg stated further that the government had just two more months before the Northern Cape’s provincial disaster declaration expires.

“This means just two more months to put money in the mouths of starving livestock and to offer a safety net to embattled farmers, who are closing their farming ventures to the detriment of the economy, food security and the social well-being of workers and their families.”