With the South African government making huge plans to address devastating issues caused by drought in most of the nation’s provinces, most of these provinces like the Western Cape have resolved to take major steps towards tackling drought issues especially with the farmers who are majorly affected by it.
Western Cape Government has thrown a R23 million lifeline to farmers hit by the impact of drought. The province Economic Opportunities minister Alan Winde, said this while announcing the 2016/17 budget speech for the Department of Agriculture on Wednesday.
Winde said about R88 million is expected from the national government for drought relief but as that it still on the way, the province would not fold its hands and wait as farmers have very real obligations that cannot wait on onerous government processes.
“This is in addition to the R11 million emergency funding the department has already made available.”
“That’s why‚ in the Western Cape‚ we have granted emerging farmers R11 million in emergency funding to ensure that they can pay their workers‚ and do not go out of business due to the losses they suffer because of the drought. This is another way we have invested in the future of the agriculture sector.”
Winde however said the R23 million would go to farmers in the areas with the greatest need.
“The funds will be released immediately and will be used as a subsistence allowance to assist farmers during this period.”
Meanwhile, the Western Cape has decried being neglected by the national government. Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Western Cape wants the national government to revise the equitable share formula, saying the province is being sidelined and is not being allocated an adequate share despite an increasing population.
According to the DA’s Western Cape finance spokesman, Denis Joseph, the budget committee in the provincial legislature had recommended in its negotiating mandate, that the National Council of Provinces debate the “unfair equitable share allocated to the Western Cape.”
Mr Joseph further pointed out that other provinces of the nation such as the Eastern Cape and Limpopo which could be compared with the western Cape receives more from the Treasury despite the challenges facing the DA-led province.
He said the Eastern Cape will receive R68.3bn in total transfers for the 2016-17 period and Limpopo will get R55.8bn in total transfers for the same period, while the Western Cape is allocated only R51.8bn.
“Among other things, the growth rate of the equitable share depends on population growth and demand for services. According to Statistics SA, from the period 2011-16, the Western Cape was estimated to have experienced an inflow of migrants totaling 350,569 people. During the same period, 243,118 people would have migrated from the Eastern Cape, and 303,151 people from Limpopo.”
Mr Joseph therefore asked what criteria was used to enable these provinces receive more financial allocation from the nation’s treasury than Western Cape.
“The DA-led Western Cape government continues to deliver the best services of all the provinces in the country … it is unfair to punish the people of the Western Cape for electing a capable government.”