Hundreds of emerging farmers wait in vain for disaster relief

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

The Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform (DARDLA) has plunged 340 emerging Thembisile Hani farmers into desperate circumstances, after refusing to provide promised disaster relief when 1780 heads of cattle died after heavy storms late last year.

The DA is in possession of 340 signed affidavits by affected farmers who claim that a DARDLA team, under the leadership of Mr Victor Mtsweni and Ms Sina Kekana visited the area, and said that the loss was a disaster.

Shortly afterward, affected farmers were called in to the DARDLA office in Kwaggafontein and informed by Ms Kekana and a Mr Skhosana that all lost cattle would be replaced, or that affected farmers would receive financial compensation.

To date, not one of the 340 farmers have received any compensation of any sort, and MEC Violet Siwela must explain why disaster relief was promised, when there was no intention to compensate these farmers in the first place.

No mention of any compensation for these farmers is made in the department’s 2012/13 annual report, nor has any shown up in the department’s 2013/14 quarterly performance reports.

If department officials acted outside their mandate by promising relief when none was forthcoming, then the MEC has a moral obligation to inform these farmers that a large portion of their livelihood is lost.

However, her refusal to acknowledge this devastating loss has had a detrimental effect on the hopes and dreams of 340 households, who are now forced to reconcile themselves that government has lied to them, and that they have to fend for themselves.

The DA will write to the MEC and demand that she meet with all affected farmers and give them government’s commitment to providing some relief.