COMMENT

Suffering of commonage animals aggravated by lack of govt care – DA NC

Party says govt and municipality fail to treat five-year-long drought as devastating disaster it is

NC drought: Suffering of commonage animals aggravated by lack of govt. care

22 November 2019

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Northern Cape has welcomed the much-needed assistance provided by private stakeholders and agricultural unions, to starving animals on desolate municipal commonage land in Victoria West. This comes after the local Ubuntu municipality, as well as the provincial government, still fail to treat the five-year long drought as the devastating disaster that it is.

This week, following complaints received regarding the condition of game at the old Victoria West game reserve, which is now just considered as commonage land, DA councillor, Wilma Schultz contacted the Beaufort West SPCA, who subsequently paid the affected area a visit.

What they found during their inspection on Tuesday this week, were several carcases and insufficient water for the approximately 275 surviving animals that are living off the land. The area was also strewn with dead tortoises.

The DA appreciates the quick response by the SPCA, as well assistance by way of fodder, that has been given to the animals by private organisations, including neighbouring farmers. However, as a result of worsening conditions of the ongoing drought, they have to feed their own animals and it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to provide fodder to the municipal game as well.

It is appalling that the local and provincial government have chosen to abandon their duties in caring for state-owned game, in so doing placing an additional burden on already struggling farmers.

Ubuntu municipality should have implemented measures to mitigate the impact of the drought on its commonage land. Yet, the municipality does not even have a commonage manager, as prescribed by law. The municipality also turned a blind eye to the questions and photographs relating to the situation, that Schultz sent to the institution’s head of infrastructure and planning, and the acting municipal manager, in September. (See picture here of waterless dam).

At the same time, the drought should by now have been gazetted as a provincial disaster. Other provinces have succeeded in officiating their disaster declarations, why not the Northern Cape?

The DA is starting to smell a rat.

We are becoming worried that local and provincial government may have alternative agendas, that are contrary to the best interests of the Northern Cape agricultural sector.

In the case of Ubuntu municipality, we are glad that the complaint opened by the SPCA against them, in effect prohibits them from dishing out surviving game to friends, as Christmas hampers. The culling of such animals must be done in a humane way, under strict supervision of inspectors.

In the case of the provincial government, we can only wonder what the real cause of the delay is. Regardless of the reasons, however, it displays a serious lack of care and even disregard for the agricultural sector.

The DA will continue exerting pressure on government to declare the drought as a provincial disaster. We will also be investigating the conditions under which animals reside on commonage land across the province.

Issued by Fawzia Rhoda, DA Constituency Head of Bo-Karoo, 22 November 2019