Fire disaster fund
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On 7 September 2023, Free State Agriculture held in-depth discussions with the members of the Free State Provincial Government regarding community safety as well as the provincial road network.
The meeting with representatives of FSA was attended by the MEC and head of department of Community Safety, Roads and Transport. The MEC, Ms MaQueen Joyce Letsoha-Mathae, is also currently acting Premier of the Free State. The district commissioner of the SAPS in Mangaung, Major General Adams, and other organized agricultural organizations TLU, AFASA and NAFU were also present. During the meeting, Mr Francois Wilken, President of Free State Agriculture, emphasized that farmers and the rural community are essentially dependent on roads and a safe rural community to produce food.
Regarding rural safety, livestock theft, the availability of police resources as well as police procurement procedures were discussed. Shortages of personnel and vehicles at livestock theft units were also pointed out to the meeting as significant problems for the agricultural sector. The SAPS is currently recruiting former police officers with detective experience in an attempt to address the shortage.
The veld fires currently causing great damage in the province were also discussed and the MEC Indicated that the Executive Committee had met on 6 September 2023 and that a provincial disaster declaration would be issued. It is supposed to unlock funds from the national government to help farmers.
According to the government representatives, progress has already been made with the transfer of some provincial roads to SANRAL, although the processes have not yet been completed. Agricultural representatives emphasized, and the MEC agreed that corruption is responsible for many of the road infrastructure problems. This gives rise to incompetent contractors fixing roads halfway and then disappear or provide substandard services.
Wilken thanked the MEC for her willingness to listen to the issues but pertinently indicated that, as in the past, “we need to move beyond just talking about the problems”.
“Free State Agriculture will continue to put pressure on the provincial government to address the many infrastructure challenges in the province. However, as farmers we cannot sit back and just wait for the state. We must therefore continue to give attention our own safety and organizational ability”.