Parliament, Tuesday, 29 March 2022 – The Eastern Cape Province’s permanent delegates to the NCOP told the head of the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform to ensure that the old agricultural extension officers are equipped with relevant skills on cannabis and hemp production in the OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo Districts.

The Acting Head of the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Mr Bongikhaya Dayimani, assured delegates that the department has strategies and plans in place to translate into reality the vision of making cannabis and hemp production one of the pillars of economic development in the Eastern Cape, particularly in the OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo Districts. The delegates heard that these plans include scientific training and mentorship programmes for cannabis and hemp farmers.

The delegates also received briefings from the departments of agriculture, economic development and basic education on the provision of land and school infrastructure. They also received briefings from the local government sphere from mayors of the OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo District Municipalities on the municipalities’ delivery of services to their communities.

The Premier of the Eastern Cape, Mr Oscar Mabuyane, welcomed the delegation in the province during the briefing meeting and assured them that it will get all the reports on service delivery from the selected departments. His government is building a capable state and the Eastern Cape Province has strength in land, climate and research, he said. He told the delegates that his government allocated R4.4 million in the previous financial year to support agriculture, and there are consequences for poor performance.

The Eastern Cape’s MEC for Education, Mr Fundile Gade, told the delegates that there is a backlog of 1 005 inappropriate schools in the province. These are not only mud structures, but also include rural schools that were built by communities using simple building materials, as well as small unviable schools. The province needs R400 billion to eradicate these structures. Some of the schools will be repurposed or redirected whilst some will be closed.

Further briefings were from Alfred Nzo’s Executive Mayor, Mr Vukile Mhlelembana, and OR Tambo’s Executive Mayor, Mr Mesuli Ngqondwana on the district municipalities’ service delivery performance and the state of their infrastructure, including roads, bridges and dams. Mr Mhlelembana also briefed the delegation on the district municipality’s support plans for the industrialisation of cannabis and hemp. The Mayors also highlighted the challenge of water in the districts and vandalism to the infrastructure.

The delegates appreciated the existence of stability in the OR Tambo District Municipality and urged the Mayor to maintain it, as without it the municipality would collapse. The Mayor assured the delegates about the availability of land for all the developmental purposes that include industrialisation of cannabis and hemp.


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