Agri Dept’s commitment to maximum relief with drought funding welcomed – DA NCape

Party says drought situation is a national emergency and assistance to farmers must be optimised

DA welcomes Agri Dept’s commitment to ensure maximum relief with drought funding

14 March 2018

The DA welcomes recommendations made by Northern Cape MEC of Agriculture, Norman Shushu, that pending drought relief still to be discharged by national, should be provided to farmers via vouchers, thereby cutting out the “middle-man scenario”, which sees emergency funding being wasted on tenderpreneurs.

Shushu’s recommendations were made at a House Sitting in Niewoudtville today, in response to a parliamentary question posed by myself.

Last year, it came to light that the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) made use of ANC cadre, Emmanuel Thabes Setloboko, who unsuccessfully contested Ward 6 in Phokwane Municipality during the 2016 local government elections, to facilitate the R25 million drought relief programme in the Northern Cape.

It is suspected that Setloboko may have pocketed about R7 million of the funds intended for drought relief, purchasing a Bentley with his profits.

Setloboko is believed to have inflated the price of drought pellets, charging the department R280 per bag as opposed to the market value of R177 per bag. In effect, this means that, of the R20.44 million spent on feed, only about R13 million achieved value for money. This number could be even less, considering that fattening pellets, that have little to no nutritional value for starving animals, were wrongly procured by Setloboko.

The DA supports Shushu’s recommendation to use a voucher system that will see farmers go straight to farmer corporations to acquire drought pellets. The money saved on both “middle-man” and transport costs, can then instead be used to buy additional feed.

While the amount of disaster funding to be received by the province has yet to be announced, following the reclassification of the drought conditions from a provincial to a national disaster, the DA will keep a close eye on the situation. We will also request our counterparts at national to appeal to DAFF to do away with the “middle-man scenario”.

The drought situation is a national emergency and assistance to farmers must be optimized. A DA government would ensure that not even one cent of disaster funding is diverted to the pockets of connected individuals at the expense of dying livestock.

Issued by Ismail ObarayDA Spokesperson of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform, 14 March 2018