Government pledges aid to Northern Cape farmers – at last!

Aggeneys, barely visible from the road, played host to Deputy President David Mabuza on Friday.

Situated in a vast region of emptiness shimmering in unrelenting sun, the hard-baked little hamlet of Aggeneys isn’t really known for being a prepossessing stop-over for traffic speeding through between Pofadder and Springbok in the Northern Cape.

Except when it’s flower time in Namaqualand.

But on Friday a cavalcade pulled into town and brought Aggeneys to a standstill as Deputy President David Mabuza addressed farmers and other interested parties promising two things: money and intervention.

Mabuza pledged R30 million for aid to farmers yoked by the crippling drought and undertook to intervene with the Land Bank on behalf of farmers facing foreclosure.

As to why the hard-hit province hasn’t been declared a disaster area yet, Mabuza said government was fully aware of how important it was to make such a decree but that that processes and procedures had to be followed before such an announcement could be Gazetted.

And although Mabuza’s pledges of help were well received, forgetting for the moment that such help from government is long overdue, his suggestion that Northern Cape farmers temporarily consider relocating to more arable government-owned land was dismissed out of hand.

Agri Northern Cape chair, Nicol Jansen, said it was completely impractical to expect people to leave their property and to go and farm somewhere else until the heavens brought reprieve for the province.

“I don’t think he (Mabuza) understands the scope and size of the problem,” Jansen said.

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