President Ramaphosa: Please help our Eastern Cape farmers

10 Sep 2021 in Press Statements

Note to Editors: Please find an attached soundbite in English by Retief Odendaal, MPL

The DA has approached President Cyril Ramaphosa in a desperate attempt to get government to provide support to struggling Eastern Cape farmers who have been decimated by the ongoing drought. (letter attached)

The Eastern Cape has been grappling with a prolonged drought since 2014. Unfortunately, the provincial government seems to be in total denial insofar the extent of the disaster is concerned and a Provincial State of Disaster responding to the drought was last declared in October 2019.

Since the 2019 drought declaration was allowed to lapse, the drought has in fact tightened its grip on the province, especially on the western side, and the need has become even greater.

The Head of the National Disaster Management Centre, Dr Mmaphaka Tau, classified the ongoing drought as a national crisis on 20 July 2021. In her classification, Dr Mmaphaka requested “the organs of state to further strengthen support to existing structures to implement contingency arrangements and ensure that measures are put in place to enable the national structure to effectively deal with the effects of this disaster”.

Unfortunately, the aforesaid classification of the drought has made little difference to Eastern Cape farmers who are yet to receive any form of assistance from government.

The ongoing drought has decimated farming communities in especially Graaff-Reinet, Aberdeen, Willowmore and Steytlerville. Farmers in these regions have for the past number of years been forced to purchase feed for livestock as almost no natural grazing is available. In many instances this extended feeding of livestock has financially ruined farmers and their farming operations.

In certain areas, the condition of the veld is so poor that game has started dying due to malnutrition. Boreholes and fountains have also started drying up, leaving some farmers with little choice but to cart water around, both for domestic and livestock uses.

It is against this backdrop that the Democratic Alliance has made an urgent appeal to President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in the unfolding crisis in the Eastern Cape.

Government has acknowledged that there is a crisis and now needs to act decisively. The Democratic Alliance will not stop fighting until our long-suffering Eastern Cape farmers receive the assistance they need.