Mark Steele, MPP
DA KZN Spokesperson on Agriculture
Today, during a meeting of the KZN Conservation and Agriculture portfolio committee, MEC Meshack Radebe refused to answer questions by the DA as to why his department had failed to appoint a new Mjindi Farms board despite the previous board’s term of office having expired in February.
The DA views the MEC’s silence on the matter as unacceptable. It is especially troubling given that the portfolio committee is seeking perfectly reasonable explanations as part of its normal oversight function.
The department of Agriculture knew the term was going to expire. This should have been brought to the MEC’s attention. Someone within the department must be held responsible for the failure to appoint a new accounting authority for this entity.
During the same meeting, the issue of funding allocation for veterinary inspection and vaccination in the province was also raised. The DA is not satisfied that enough is being provided for this critical function. The department has not met its targets this year in a number of areas of disease control yet the 2013/14 budget shows no real increase over inflation for animal health, effectively going from R136 million to R133 million.
The MEC’s further announcement that the department will stop an annual R10 million payment to the SPCA, used to fund mobile clinics and sterilise stray animals is equally alarming. The decision was made based on the fact that the two year programme is now coming to an end. Yet the question remains – what will happen to the service that the SPCA provided? The department’s response appears incredibly short-sighted.
The DA calls on MEC Radebe to establish the reasons for his department’s failure to appoint a new Mjindi board. We also call on him to reveal his department’s plans as far as mobile clinics and the sterilisation of strays in the province is concerned. We await his response.