Minister Mokonyane jet-setting while drought crisis worsens

By Leon Basson MP, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation:

Today’s Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation – scheduled to consider the Drought – was adjourned by the Chairperson, Mlungisi Johnson who- instead of pressing the Department on its plans to mitigate the crisis- opted to close the meeting and join the NEHAWU protest on Parliament’s precinct. To add insult to the injury of millions of South Africans, the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, did not even bother to attend such a crucial meeting. This is indicative of the ANC government’s skewed priorities.

The DA will write to the Leader of Government Business, Cyril Ramaphosa, to demand an explanation as to why Minister Mokonyane- in a shocking display of poor leadership- was allowed to travel overseas with him on his visit to Iran. The fact that the Deputy President  – who should be mindful of the importance of executive accountability in Parliament – did not ensure that the Minister was in the country to account demands condemnation. He must explain this ill-conceived decision without delay.

Furthermore, the DA will be writing to the Chairperson of Committee Chairs, Cedrik Frolick, requesting that he investigate Chairperson Johnson’s decision to shut down such an important committee meeting.

At present several provinces are at serious risk of starvation, due to food shortages.  Thousands of job losses are also expected, as farms are unable to yield crops. Farmers in KwaZulu-Natal have already reported to have lost 30 000 heads of cattle alone this year as a result of the province’s driest year in over a century. Moreover, subsistence farmers are expected lose 60% of their herds within the next few weeks.

The reality is that if it does not rain in the next week, farmers in affected provinces are expected to lose their entire season’s crop. This will have major consequences for food security in our country.

Given this unparalleled crisis – which will affect people’s lives in the most fundamental way – the ANC’s complete lack of interest in finding a solution is shameful. The Deputy President, the Minister and the Portfolio Committee Chairperson owe South Africa an explanation. We will not rest until we get one.