Serious questions need to be asked about what the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) and its MEC, Nomakhosazana Meth, are hiding with regards to the R74 million provincial drought relief aid made available for the Eastern Cape.
Last month the Democratic Alliance launched a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application relating to drought relief efforts in the province, due to the high levels of uncertainty over the distribution of critical drought aid to farming communities.
This after numerous requests to DRDAR, and MEC Meth for clarity around the drought relief funding and the identification of beneficiaries for drought relief aid were simply ignored.
The deadline for providing the documents requested has now passed, and the only correspondence from the Department has been an acknowledgement of receipt of the application.
There are serious questions around the allocation of funding, the procurement of sub-standard feed, the allocation of relief to beneficiaries who do not even qualify and irregular distribution allocation that need to be answered.
The Department and its MEC must be held accountable for any irregularities in this regard.
I have now taken the next step, which is to lodge an internal appeal for the documentation to be released.
This application includes, but is not limited to, tender specifications, contractual agreements, price specifications, procurement plans and distributions plans with regards to the R74 million that was made available by DRDAR for drought aid in the Eastern Cape in the 2019/20 financial year.
Should the information still not be forthcoming, I will be turning to the courts for the appropriate relief.
The Democratic Alliance is determined to fight for a vibrant commercial and emerging agricultural sector. In order for this to become a reality, public funds need to be managed and spent appropriately, in accordance with the set policies and procedures that have been put in place.
When the survival of one of the key sectors of the provincial economy is at risk, we cannot allow government systems to be undermined.
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