South Africa’s Deputy President David Mabuza has, on August 5, 2020, submitted replies to written questions from the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). These were from political parties represented in the NCOP on a range of issues including service delivery hotspots, initiatives to revive the economy and programmes to curb farm attacks.
Responding to a question on government programmes to accelerate agricultural support to communities in rural farming areas and the curbing of violent attacks on farmers and farm workers, the Deputy President highlighted that through the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform and Agriculture, there is a concerted effort by government to ensure the sustainability of the sector as the lifeblood of the economy.
The Deputy President emphasised that agriculture continues to show resilience in the face of economic contraction and remains a pivotal part of South Africa’s economy. He further asserted that the most important resource in the agricultural sector including rural farming communities, are the people who live on and work the land.
The matter of farm murders and measures to address this scourge was dealt with by the Deputy President, where he emphasised government’s position that the lives of farmers, farm workers and farm dwellers as well as every citizen of the country, black and white, matters.
“While crime prevention is the priority of our police service, we draw comfort from the fact that where perpetrators are brought to book, our courts have shown their independence and capability to dispense justice to the victims of violent crimes such as murder. They are thorough and show no mercy to those who inflict physical, psychological and economic damage on the communities who put food on our tables and on the tables around the world. South African Police Services will continue to improve relationships with all constituencies in farming communities,” said Deputy President Mabuza.
Deputy President highlighted Ms Zaahida Shakur, a pregnant mother and wife who was murdered at her farm in Weenen recently. “Even in the observance of Women’s month we continue to be confronted with violence against women and children, naturally such crimes are indeed a cause for moral concern and societal outrage” said Deputy President David Mabuza.
On service delivery hotspots and what rapid response interventions had been proposed for affected municipalities, the Deputy President assured members of the NCOP that service delivery remains a key instrument in government’s social contract with the people of South Africa.
Even through the current period of a nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, government continues to strengthen its efforts of supporting municipalities to ensure that people continue to receive uninterrupted and reliable access to basic services such as healthcare, electricity, water and sanitation.
The Deputy President added that municipalities experiencing severe electricity challenges, often as a result of excess usage of the notified maximum demand and failure to honour debt repayment to Eskom, are the foremost contributors to service delivery challenges. In this regard, the Political Task Team on Eskom, chaired by the Deputy President, is looking into all the municipalities that are exceeding the contracted demand with a view to resolving the negative impact on communities.
On initiatives undertaken by government to revive the economy that has been adversely by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and its disruptions to global supply value chains, Deputy President Mabuza assured the NCOP that government has been working with constituencies on efforts to leverage partnerships and in turning challenges that arise from the pandemic to opportunities to grow domestic manufacturing.
In line with engagements with NEDLAC constituencies i.e. are business, labour, community and government, Deputy President Mabuza underscored the promotion of local production of personal protective equipment, manufacturing of medical equipment and other goods that are currently in demand.
“It is a reality that trade globally has been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is upon us to strategically use this challenge to grow our domestic economy and prepare citizens to be able to take up opportunities that may arise as global conditions for trade and investment are eased, including investing in the expansion of the country’s e-commerce capacity,” said Deputy President David Mabuza.
The Deputy President is also convening the Political Task Team on Eskom, scheduled for Friday, 7 August 2020, which will focus on progress on stabilisation of electricity supply and on joint response to issues of corruption impacting on the utility.