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Ramaphosa called on to act


President Cyril Ramaphosa has been asked to use tomorrow’s January 9 statement to address the drought that has gripped the country.

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has been asked to use tomorrow’s January 9 statement to address the drought that has gripped the country, with a warning that any further delays to mitigate the impact of the drought will have catastrophic consequences.

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen, who was in Kimberley yesterday, said during a media briefing that the government could no longer ignore the drought.

“This drought isn’t something far away that affects someone else. The impact on our nation’s food security is an issue that will touch each and every South African, and as always it will be poor and destitute South Africans who will be left reeling as food scarcity and imports cause prices to soar.”

Steenhuisen pointed out that nowhere was this looming catastrophe more evident than in the Northern Cape.

“Perhaps it is a blessing in disguise that the ANC has chosen to host its birthday celebration here. President Ramaphosa has now been in the Northern Cape for the better part of a week and would have seen first-hand the devastation caused by the ongoing drought. He cannot later claim to be shocked by this situation.”

Steenhuisen pointed out that while there was nothing anyone could do to make it rain, there was a lot that could be done to lessen the impact of the drought on residents and to protect food security in the agriculture sector.

“Poor planning, crumbling infrastructure and rampant corruption greatly exacerbate the effects of the drought, and it goes without saying that these issues need to be addressed in every province.”

He warned that while the Northern Cape may be the worst hit, the Eastern Cape, the North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng were all facing their own versions of “Day Zero”, whether in residential areas or in sustaining livestock and crops on farms.

“Here in the Northern Cape, agriculture is on its knees. And while measures such as the Drought Plan, the early warning system and plans for a fodder bank that have been launched here must be lauded, it is simply not enough,” Steenhuisen stated.

“President Ramaphosa is here in the Northern Cape, and he will be addressing a national audience on Saturday. I appeal to him to use the opportunity to recognise the urgency of the situation and to prioritise an adequate response.”

He added that the most important action was to direct funds towards drought relief measures.

“It is estimated that over 37% of rural communities in South Africa are affected by the drought. An AgriSA study at the beginning of last year found that around 30 000 farmworkers had already lost their jobs due to the drought. That number has no doubt climbed since then. We have to act, and we have to act now.

“This is not a matter of finger pointing and blaming.

“It is a matter of working together.”

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