Address by Mr Lennox Gaehler, MP in the Parliamentary Debate: Budget Vote 26: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (29 May 2013)
Chairperson, Minister and Deputy Minister and Honourable Members,
The UDM supports Budget Vote 26.
Since 2009 we have been hoping that we would reach a point where the Minister would successfully turn the Department around and place it on a path to efficiency and effectiveness, but this has thus far proven to be wishful thinking. Instead, the situation in the Department has taken a turn for the worse.
For evidence one has to look no further than the fact that, while the Department has spent more 90% of its budget, only 52% of its targets have been achieved. Two questions now come to mind: “Where did the money go? Has it been diverted to President Zuma’s Zero Hunger Programme?”
Minister, the public deserves to know what happened to rest of the money.
I have received numerous complaints from emerging farmers around the country about the Department’s mechanisation programme.
Many of the complaints echo the UDM’s sentiments that it is difficult to accurately determine who benefits from this project when the Department has no policy on the distribution of tractors.
The UDM has been calling on the Department to address this problem for a while now without success. We hope the Department will take this matter seriously this time around.
Monitoring and evaluation of existing programmes in the Department is very weak, to say the least. For example, every year the Department gives money to provinces in order to ensure the success of the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP), but it does not monitor how the funds have been used and whether they have been used for the intended purpose.
To make matters worse, the officials who are in charge of the CASP programme do not reply to complaints from members of the public about the programme. They also fail to reply to our correspondence about it.
I thank you.