Hon N P Msimango MPL
Food security, poverty alleviation and job creation should be high on the agenda of any government. If these three key aspects are well planned, well-funded and well managed, then we will be able to achieve the prosperous KwaZulu-Natal that we would like to see. Against this backdrop and in full understanding of the difficult economic times that we face, I rise to express appreciation on behalf of the Inkatha Freedom Party for the budget of R2.2billion made available to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Having said that, I must hasten to add that this allocation, framed against the backdrop of the challenges faced by the province, is far too little to achieve food security, create jobs in the agricultural sector and reduce poverty. What is important is how the Department utilises this budget to achieve its strategic objectives.
Madame Speaker, I find it difficult to understand why this department fails to achieve some of its obligations. Allow me to provide an example of what I am talking about. On page 83 it is stated:
“The budget was slightly under-spent by R946 000, mainly caused by under-spending on the Land Care grant, largely due to delays in the procurement of fencing for land care projects, and also the procurement of supplies for the nurseries which form part of the land care awareness programme. The fencing material was delivered and paid for by 31 March 2013, but there was insufficient time to install the fencing. As such, the funding for the payment of stipends for the installation using EPWP principles was not spent.”
I am finding it very difficult to understand why is it that even though the fencing was delivered and paid for in March 2013 and we are now in April 2015, the fencing has not been installed and the reason given is that there was insufficient time. Is this department attempting to fence off the entire province? Where is this fencing now? After two years is the material still available? We are also told that the payment of the stipends for the installation was not spent. Why, when there are thousands of people out there desperately looking for jobs? This boils down to poor management and bad planning. I urge the MEC to ensure that this project be given priority and the portfolio committee must perform its oversight function and go to see where the fencing is being stored.
Poor planning and a lack of foresight is also evident on page 84 where it is stated that in the 2013/2014 financial year that an amount of R8,847million was budgeted for the provision of sheds for the mechanisation programme. Then again in the 2014/2015 financial year a further amount of R8,5million was allocated for the same purpose, but this money was not spent because a decision was thereafter taken to “reassess whether such sheds will still be required”. This means that over two financial years money is budgeted for a project that is not well-thought out.
Also in the 2013/2014 there was under-expenditure of R38,465million and of this amount R23million was for the liming programme under the Ilima/Letsema Projects.
This money was not spent because there were delays in the procurement and delivery of the lime. This is unacceptable since in that financial year there was a budget of over R320million in Programme 1 : Administration which money was spent on managing the affairs of the department. This shows poor management and a lack of leadership.
Madame Speaker, the IFP is concerned about the issue of tractors that were purchased by this Department and given to certain communities. Those tractors were handed out amid much fanfare and publicity. We have submitted a question to the Hon MEC last year but have not been given a response to date. Tax payers’ money was used to purchase those tractors and we would like to know who those tractors were given to, where are they now, are they still being used, who is paying for the maintenance and licensing and are those tractors benefitting the communities they were meant for? The MEC must answer these questions in the House because we must know if public money is again being wasted while communities suffer.
The Hon MEC must also come clean and tell this House why the forensic audit report into Mjindi Farming has not been released. The investigation has been completed but the report has not seen the light of day. What is the MEC hiding?
Why is this report being kept a secret?
Madame Speaker, if we are truly serious about rural development, this Department must be seen to be doing more for rural communities. The Hon MEC must inform this House about what progress is being made, if any, on land reform that seeks to integrate the previously disadvantaged into the mainstream economy. Land Reform is a national priority and it needs to be driven vigorously in KZN. We should not be seen to be sitting back and not attending to this issue.
Madame Speaker, Mjindi Farming has been well-known for its agricultural performance. It is therefore of concern to the IFP that on page 81 we are informed that:
“A lack of human capacity remained a challenge, impacting negatively on advisory services to farmers, as well as the launch of farmer capacity building programmes.”
This must be of serious concern to us all if we want to maintain the standards achieved by this entity. Food security will be endangered as predictable production levels drop in the days to come. I do not see much in this budget that speaks specifically to addressing this situation.
We are also told on that same page that:
“Theft and vandalism of the irrigation infrastructure and fencing continued to be a problem during 2014/15.”
If theft and vandalism is allowed to continue unchecked, Madame Speaker, then we are in for more serious challenges. This Department must ensure that the necessary funds are made available to protect and maintain the existing infrastructure. This budget should therefore be directed at addressing these challenges in a more aggressive manner in order to build confidence in the production capability of Mjindi Farming.
Madam Speaker, The core vision of the Ingonyama Trust is to manage communal land in KwaZulu-Natal and its mission is to improve the quality of life of the communities living on the land it administers. It must further oversee that people benefit from formal land tenure rights.
Ngqongqoshe iqembu leNkatha Yenkululeko Yesizwe lithanda ukunxusa intsha yakulesisifundazwe ukuthi ayingene ngomkhono nesiphanga kwezolimo ukuze izithuthukise iphinde ibambe iqhaza ekuthuthukisweni komnotho wezwe lakithi.Kumele ufakwe umoya entsheni wokuthi ezolimo akuzona ebantu abadala kuphela kodwa nazo zingumsebenzi umuntu angaba injinga uma ezimisele. Sithi azibuye emasisweni Phezu komkhono.
I’m particularly impressed to note that there is a lot of enthusiasm from young farmers, to grow and become future commercial farmers in Agriculture. Therefore the IFP calls for the establishment of a ring-fenced Agri Youth Fund. This will go a long way in empowering our young farmers across the province.
If KwaZulu-Natal too can begin to empower the youth, it would be preparing the youth that will carry the nation to greater heights. Youth should be encouraged in education. They should realize that youths that are not empowered would be the ones to destroy the future of the country in future. Every area youth needs support should be looked into with a view to boosting their morale as well as give them a sense of belonging. We call on all leaders in this province to be more transparent to the public and do things to promote youth empowerment, bearing in mind that youths are the leaders of tomorrow, who will take over after them.
Madame Speaker, For KwaZulu-Natal to achieve food self-sufficiency, governments must give a greater decision-making role to African agriculture’s most important actors: Women. Women play a critical role in agricultural growth in developing countries, yet they face persistent obstacles and economic constraints.
Therefore, we call for women’s empowerment and harmonised policy action for making agriculture more nutrition-sensitive. Without addressing women, we cannot effectively and sustainably address global poverty and hunger.
I thank you.
Mr Nhlanhla Msimango,
IFP KZN Spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development, 078 302 4657