DA Proposes Drought Relief Motion

Speech by: Ina Cilliers MPL

“Innovation the key to mitigate drought effect on Gauteng Agricultural sector”

  • In Gauteng we have the talent, the resources and the technology to implement effective strategies to farm and live in a semi-arid environment, in the midst of a drought that is never going to abate completely;
  • Every time you flush a toilet, 9 litres of quality water is lost. Municipalities could start exploring dry sanitation solutions, and rewarding communities for grey water recycling, the use of irrigation systems linked to weather stations and diversifying water resources instead of relying solely on rainwater.
  • Re-directing resources to fix and maintain reticulation infrastructure and implementing a rapid response approach to leaks has worked well in certain Western Cape municipalities where water losses stand at only 14%;
  • Drought relief must expand from drilling boreholes and providing fodder to providing farmers with permanent organic soil cover, drought resistant crop cultivars, no-till mechanisation, and precision farming applications. It is already much easier to download an extension officer from the app store than to see a live one from GDARD;
  • Government is still advocating agricultural methodology that is as old, outdated and downright bad for the farming economy.

The full speech can be obtained here.

 

Speech by: Janho Engelbrecht MPL

“The poor will be hit hardest by Government’s inaction over drought”

  • Vast amounts of food are consumed in Gauteng, the most densely populated of all our provinces, therefore the people of this province are dependent on others for most of our food, and it is precisely this dependency that puts us at risk;
  • The drought is making it more expensive to operate, and that cost is being passed onto the consumer. This could have been avoided if government took urgent action and declared the drought a national disaster earlier this year, freeing up funding that would have resulted in better supply, and lower prices;
  • While we may not yet be experiencing food insecurity, we are already seeing increased community and household food insecurity amongst the poorest of the poor in Gauteng. Food price inflation increases hurt the poor when particular staple foods along with bread and cereals increase by 16%; fruit by 20% and vegetables by 15.4%;
  • We need real solutions to a crisis that has the potential to destabilize our province.

The full speech can be obtained here.

 

 

 

Media Enquiries:

Ina Cilliers MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Agriculture

060 556 4344

 

Janho Engelbrecht MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Agriculture

060 556 4343

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Merafong Loses 1.6 Million Litres Of Fresh Water Every Month

Merafong Municipality

For the past six weeks, the Merafong Municipality has done nothing to repair a burst water pipe, losing more than 1.6 million litres of fresh water per month.

The burst pipe is the result of a massive sink hole, which in itself is caused by Merafong losing 51% of its water monthly due to leaks. This has caused damage to the main water supply in the area, severely affecting supply to Khutsong Ext 3, 5 and Welverdiend.

As a result, residents are forced to rely on sporadic water supply from roving water tankers.

This sinkhole is less than 10 metres away from residential homes and is a danger to residents, especially children.

MEC Paul Mashitile

I raised the issue with Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance, Paul Mashitile, as a matter of urgency – expecting a swift response.

Instead, in a written reply from the MEC, he merely indicates that his department is aware of the problem and that funds have been secured to assist residents in receiving water from tankers.

However, there is no indication as to when the pipe will be repaired, simply that an “investigation is underway”.

Given the current drought conditions, it is unthinkable that this volume of water is simply allowed to be lost.

Debt to Rand Water

Of further concern is Merafong’s debt to Rand Water, which stands at just over R47 million over 90 days.

If left unattended, this water pipe will end up costing the municipality hundreds of millions of rand.

It is beyond belief that neither the MEC nor the municipality has taken immediate action.

I will follow this matter up with oral questions to MEC Mashatile in the Gauteng Legislature to ensure the leak is contained and residents receive the services they deserve.

 

Media enquiries:

Ina Cilliers MPL

DA Gauteng Constituency Head – Merafong

060 556 4344

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Fiscal Crunch Hits Gauteng Housing, Health And Agriculture Grants

ANC National Government Failure

The failure of the ANC national government to effectively manage the country’s finances is filtering down to Gauteng, with the Provincial Government seeing a reduction in the grants it receives from National Government for service delivery cut by massive amounts over the next three years.

The following departments would see reductions in grants:

  • The Human Settlements Development Grant will be reduced by R1.6 billion in the 2016/17 Financial Year;
  • Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme Grant reduced by R210 million over the next three years; and
  • Health Facility Revitalization Grant reduced by R365 million over the next three years.

This will greatly impair the provincial government’s ability to deliver on its promises to provide housing and upgrade human settlements as outlined in by the Premier during the tabling of his office’s Annual Report last week.

In 2015/16 the Gauteng Human Settlements Department underspent on its grant and as a result under-delivered on its housing promises.

Agricultural Support Needed

The Premier pointed out in the same speech that he was unhappy with the performance of the Human Settlement department. This reduction will further impair the provinces performance in terms of housing.

Furthermore, in light of the severe drought, agricultural support is needed now more than ever in Gauteng to ensure that the sector remains viable. Drought has been cited as one of the reasons the South African economy is struggling.

The Gauteng province is similarly under pressure to ensure that its healthcare facilities are able to accommodate the needs of over 13 million people in the province, and the reduction in this grant will severely impact the provinces ability to deliver quality healthcare.

As much as the ANC in Gauteng tries to distance itself from President Jacob Zuma and the failings his administration, they are still one party with the same governing philosophy, and their ability to govern Gauteng is impacted by the President’s failings.

Gauteng Provincial Budget

The Gauteng Provincial Budget for the 2015/16 financial year does not plug these essential gaps, but the ANC government in Gauteng has still seen fit to ensure that there was a flurry of pre-election billboards marketing the provincial government and the premier.

Despite losing out on grants, the province still saw it fit to spend R100 million on ‘voter education’ for the local government election.

I challenge Gauteng Finance MEC Barbara Creecy and Premier Makura to take the approach adopted by DA Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga and slashing spending on lavish parties (such as the State of the Province Address) and unnecessary travel and getaways masked as department “study tours” and “strategic breakaways”.

I further challenge the ANC government in Gauteng to slash advertising in favour of service delivery.

 

Media enquiries:

Ashor Sarupen

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Finance

060 558 8303

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Food Prices Fact-Finding Tour In Johannesburg

Tomorrow, 06 May 2016, Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Annette Steyn MP, will visit Johannesburg market and Wanderers taxi rank to talk to hawkers, traders, market agents and the general public. This will be to ascertain the effect of the drought on small businesses, the support offered to them by their municipality, and the impact of red-tape on small businesses.

This follows from the last drought press conference held by the DA and is the first stop on our fact-finding tour of markets across the country to gauge the impact of the drought on rocketing food prices which impact the poor the most. This is while the ANC government continues in perpetual denialism, showing no urgency in dealing effectively with the drought by refusing to declare it a national disaster.

Ms Steyn will be joined by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Kevin Mileham MP, and DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of Small Business Development, Henro Kruger MP. The DA’s Johannesburg Mayoral Candidate, Herman Mashaba will be accompanying the Shadow Ministers in Johannesburg.

The tour will take place as follows:

09:30 to 10:25 – Johannesburg Market at 1 Heidelberg Road (talking to traders)

10:45 to 11:30 – Walk-through at Wanderers taxi rank in Wanderers Street (talking to informal traders/hawkers)

There will be photo and interview opportunities.

 

Media Enquiries:

Karabo Tledima

Press Officer

061 794 3819

 

Nkele Molapo

Media Officer : Johannesburg Mayoral Campaign

072 041 4842

 

Tiaan Kotze

Media Officer

079 893 8404

Gauteng Drought Relief Funding Not Enough To Stop Food Shortages

National Disaster

The R20 million drought relief set aside by Gauteng Finance MEC, Barbara Creecy, in her 2016/17 budget will offer small relief to the agricultural sector in the province when at least a R140 million is required to mitigate the impact the drought has had.

This drought, the worst in 104 years, has had a tremendous impact on the 720 smallholders and 500 commercial farmers in the province that there has been an increase in the number of unemployed farm workers, increased food prices, food insecurity among the poorest of the poor and will see many farmers going out of business.

The DA calls on Gauteng Premier David Makhura and his cabinet to push to have an agricultural drought declared in Gauteng, in support of the declaration of a National Disaster.

Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Premier Makhura must also ensure that the drought relief includes support in the commercial sector such as farm worker wage subsidies, providing soft production loans for farmers in severe distress, rigorously introducing conservation agriculture principles in all Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development activities, and providing interest rate subsidies to commercial farmers in distress for the winter planting season.

If these steps are not followed immediately, Gauteng will not only face an agricultural drought, but also a socio-economic drought where physical water shortages will directly affect the health and daily prospects of the people of Gauteng.

 

Media enquiries:

Ina Cilliers MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Agriculture

060 556 4344

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Merafong’s farmers face uncertain future

This drought, the worst in 104 years, is in fact the biggest game changer we will face this year, not only as a province, but as a nation.

Already 2.7 million people are food insecure. We will need to import far more than the estimated 3.8 million tons of maize.

Many farmers planted outside of their normal schedules and it is very hard to predict what their yields will be.

Buying fodder and drilling boreholes will not be enough. Our drought relief efforts needs to be augmented to include additional funding for operational loans to farmers, a wage subsidy for farm workers, feed packages so sustain livestock and education programmes on conservation agriculture.

The DA will demand that the drought be declared a national disaster so that we can unlock the resources of the national departments, the defence force and the national disaster management centre.

In last year’s State Of the Province Address, the West Rand featured strongly as a development corridor. There were plans for the region to become an agricultural hub.

And yet, The Gauteng Provincial Government, in association with Department of Mineral Resources will soon be considering an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Sibanye Gold to build another mega-tailings facility smack in the middle of some of the best agricultural land in Gauteng.

There are some 1.3 billion tonnes of surface tailings, mine dumps, sitting around the West Rand. Inside these tailings are hundreds of millions of pounds of uranium and gold.

The mining house will be asking permission to mine those dumps, retreat them, and move them to another, new site.

It’s going to cost Gauteng 1500ha of prime agriculture land just on the actual site of the mega dump. This translates into 8250 tonnes of maize, every season.

The mine themselves acknowledge that there is also an environmental risk –  Dust particles on windy days can be found up to 3000m in the air affecting and contaminating large areas of the West rand and the Vaal Triangle. The surrounding farms and the communities of Fochville, Greenspark and Kokosi will bear the brunt of the pollution.

If there is any breach of the 50km pipeline or any fault in construction or operation the effects will be seeping into the groundwater.

The mines already have a very poor track record when it comes to respecting our environment.

In my reply to the SOPA, I made it clear that MEC Maile has two choices to make:

If he makes the right choice, the western and southern corridors of Gauteng can become sustainable and vibrant agricultural regions.

After all, in 10-12 years according to Sibanye the gold will be gone. Agriculture will be the only sector that the West Rand will have to offer the economy of Gauteng.

If he makes the right choice, the mines can extract the minerals from the tailings without dumping their waste to become someone else’s problem and compromising agricultural production.

If he makes the wrong choice, without considering the alternatives available, the Westrand will continue in its downward trajectory.

Similarly, voters can exercise their choices in the local government elections this year and, building up to the Provincial Election of 2019. Its time to vote for clean and responsible government that put the economic prosperity and health of the people above the politics of Greed.

Media enquiries:

Ina Cilliers MPL

DA Gauteng Constituency Head – Merafong City Local Municipality
060 556 4344

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Water Crisis: Gauteng Schools Negatively Affected

Water Shortages

Water shortages and the current drought in Gauteng are having a negative impact on school nutrition (feeding scheme) programmes at schools across the province.

Class contact time is also being lost and examinations are affected as schools shut their doors due the lack of water supply and extreme weather conditions.

Asking learners to go home is not a sustainable solution as schools are a conducive environment for learning and benefiting from school programmes such as nutrition and sport.

Drinking Water & Comfort

Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, must ensure that adequate measures are in place to circumvent the impact the drought has on school programmes and examinations.

The MEC should implement an emergency strategy at matric examination centres across the province to ensure that there are zero disruptions, and that matriculants will be provided with drinking water in the event shortages.

Room temperatures at examination centres must also be monitored by the Department to provide comfort.

 

Media enquiries:

Khume Ramulifho MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education

082 398 7375

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