During the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s recent appearance before the North West Provincial Legislature’s (NWPL) Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, the payments made to government officials from the Covid-19 Disaster Agricultural Support Fund were justified as “erroneous”.
An amount of R69 million from the National Treasury was appropriated in aid of struggling farmers during the lockdown period, many of which have not yet received funding. Instead, payments to at least 55 government officials were made.
We will write to MEC Desbo Mohono, requesting a detailed report on each official’s farming particulars, which department they are employed at, the positions they hold, and the duration of employment. We will request an indication of any other forms of support such as land allocation or drought relief granted to these individuals.
The Department indicated that such payments will be reversed, but the MEC should indicate the timeframe of such reversals. An internal investigation ought to be launched to determine who was responsible for the irregular payments.
The North West economy is largely dependent on the agricultural sector and without the necessary support, farmers will no longer be able to withstand the severe financial constraints brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. In a time of job scarcity and a shortage of resources, it is essential that food security is prioritized.