Devastating fires a threat to the economy

Bosman Grobler MPL

DA spokesperson for cooperative governance and traditional affairs

The past 48 hours have been devastating for the rural and farming communities of Mpumalanga.

On Thursday the South African Weather Bureau issued fire warnings for large parts of Mpumalanga.

Despite fire brigades, firefighting teams and members of the community across the province being

on high alert, the fires ravaged areas across the province. The area most severely affected at this

stage seem to be the farming area around Bethal and Carolina.

The DA takes note of the fact that fires scorched through the province on Friday. Reports received thus far indicate huge losses to grazing fields, bales and other stored feed for animals. Further reports indicate losses of equipment sheds, equipment like tractors and other farming equipment.

At this stage there is also an unconfirmed loss of one life.

The DA will write to the MEC of CoGTA, Refilwe Mtsweni, to instruct the disaster management unit to immediately intervene and help communities who have been affected. The DA will also request MEC of Agriculture, Andries Gamede, to investigate the affect the fires will have on the agriculture sector, and aid where needed.

The DA is extremely concerned that huge losses in the agriculture sector may lead to farmers not being able to cover their input costs. This can lead to lower production of sustenance, which is a threat to food security. Job losses, lower input in local markets and higher debt will all have an influence on the local economy of Mpumalanga.

Local councillors will visit affected areas during the course of the weekend take note of all the damages and needs which will be handed to the relevant MEC’s .