Slow spending putting disaster funding at risk

Andrew Louw

DA Provincial Leader

The Northern Cape government is spending funds allocated for the flood scheme much too slowly.  This is a huge problem considering that farmers and rural communities who suffered devastating effects of the floods in 2011, are still awaiting help.

At a legislature briefing this week, National Treasury highlighted the fact that in the past financial year, the agriculture department underspent its compensation for disasters by R260 million. As a result of this massive underspending, flood relief assistance was significantly cut for the current financial year.

It seems, however, that even this significant loss of funding wasn’t enough to spur the department into action. By the end of the first quarter of this financial year, the department has already fallen behind where it should be.

The fact of the matter is that the department still does not have a disaster management plan in place.  As a result, they have been unjustifiably slow to comply with relevant legislation, to follow due processes and to implement appropriate action plans to mitigate natural disasters.

Droughts, floods and fires are characteristic of the Northern Cape landscape. In fact, the province is currently experiencing a drought and the department estimates that funding of at least R90 million a month, for at least the next four months, is required for animal feed.

It is unacceptable that the department’s own inability to spend its budgets is compromising funding to help rural communities facing severe drought conditions. It’s high time they stop sitting on funding and start using it for its intended purpose. We must do everything to help our rural communities and to support the rural economy in difficult times.