Declare drought a national disaster - DA

2016-01-14 15:31
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Cape Town – South Africa’s drought situation has reached "a crisis point" and the government needs to declare a national disaster, the DA said on Thursday.

This was so that various organs of state could urgently assist those most in need, DA MP Annette Steyn told journalists.

"The current ad hoc method of delivering feed and water in an uncoordinated way is not feasible."

The political party also wanted the government to set up a national task team to coordinate a disaster alleviation plan.

It said it had yet to receive a response from the Speaker on this request.

These recommendations formed part of the DA’s drought oversight report.

Steyn spent the last two months covering 4 000km to visit drought-stricken communities.

According to the SA Weather Service, the country had experienced its lowest annual total rainfall in 112 years last year.

"The ANC is definitely not responsible for the drought. But what they are responsible for is to manage it. That they definitely have not done," said Steyn.

The DA predicted that food prices, especially for maize and wheat, would spike in the next few months.

Steyn said both commercial and subsistence farmers had been affected. Some would be forced to let their workers go.

"I have spoken to farmers and they told me they have just let their animals go and let them roam freely in the hope that they will survive."

During her tour, Steyn found that some residents had to pay bribes to have water delivered to them. Others were in serious debt.

The party believed there was sufficient money in the coffers that could be reprioritised for drought relief.

"Drought is an absolute priority for us," is what Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan affirmed at a post-Cabinet briefing broadcast from Pretoria on Thursday.

He said "proportionality" was needed in the way things were described.

On Wednesday, an article said parts of South Africa were unaffected and producing agricultural products for export. Other areas, with large tracts of non-irrigated land with a maize crop, were impacted negatively.

He said the ministerial committee on drought met a few days ago and would probably brief the media themselves.

"But as Cabinet, we certainly take this very seriously and it is an important priority."

Read more on:    da  |  drought

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