DA repeats call for redeployment of Agriculture MEC

Veliswa Mvenya MPL

Spokesperson on Rural Development and Agrarian Reform

The 2011/12 annual report of the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform will be debated in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature this afternoon.

The DA is repeating its call that the MEC for Agriculture, Zoleka Capa, be redeployed. Under her guardianship this department has collapsed, to the detriment of the thousands of farmers.

Rural development and agricultural production are key areas of potential job creation in the Eastern Cape. This department plays an essential role in providing support to farmers, such as extension officers, to improve food security and agricultural production.

The department obtained qualified audit opinions in 2011/12 and 2010/11, whereas it achieved unqualified opinions in the previous two financial years.

In the 2011/12 financial year, the department failed to spend millions on agriculture projects, including R13, 1 million for farmer support and development and R10,7 million for structured agricultural training. It also underspent on the CASP-grant. Even in the current financial year, the department is projected to underspend of more than R100 million. This under expenditure has a negative effect on farmers.

The outdated Fort Cox Agricultural College-decree remains in place, despite assurances from the department that the issue would be finalised by June this year. It is common knowledge that dipping tanks in the province are dilapidated and there is a backlog in fencing on farms.

The huge tensions between the MEC and her superintendent-general, Glen Thomas are public knowledge and have had an adverse effect on the running of the department.

The MEC’s continued reluctance to disclose the facts around farms purchased while she was mayor of the OR Tambo District Municipality has revealed her utter disdain for the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature as an institution. Since 2008 over R55 million has been paid out for the purchase and management of these five farms in Kwazulu-Natal on behalf of the OR Tambo District Municipality. The farms are allegedly managed by the Ntinga OR Tambo Development Agency, of which Capa’s husband was the CEO until recently.

The failure of the ANC to act gives the impression that Capa is untouchable because she is a member of the party’s National Executive Committee.

It is the mandate of this department and the MEC to make a meaningful contribution in boosting the agricultural economy of the province.

I will continue to hold the MEC accountable on behalf of the people of this province as agriculture remains a key area of economic activity in the Eastern Cape.

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