FS Provincial government failed to apply for drought assistance

Roy Jankielsohn MPL

Free State Provincial Legislature

Ace Magashule’s government has failed to declare parts of the province drought disaster areas. This was revealed by the national Deputy-Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Dr Pieter Mulder.

The failure by Agriculture and Rural Development MEC, Ms Mamiki Qabathe, to declare drought disaster areas and apply for emergency aid funding from Treasury will result in further job losses in the agricultural sector. She also failed to answer written questions about this in the legislature last year.

It is clear that the provincial government does not appreciate the role of agriculture as an economic sector in the Free State province. Our rural economies in the province and the commercial existence of most small towns are dependent on a strong and vibrant agricultural community. Agriculture also accounts for many jobs in the Free State, both directly and indirectly.

The Agriculture sector in the Free State continues to shed jobs, having lost more than 39 000 jobs over the last decade. Unemployment in the Free State is the highest in the country at 41.2% (expanded definition).

The dismissive attitude and lack of support that commercial agriculture receives from government will cost the Free State dearly. Food security is at risk and food prices are expected to increase as a result of the resulting shortages of agricultural products due to the drought and veldt fires experienced last year.

The provincial government must explain what steps it will take to deal with both the lack of support and the consequences of its negligence in this regard.