Mantashe did not get preferential treatment – DAFF

The ANC general secretary, Gwede Mantashe, did not receive priority treatment from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), after the recent fires that affected several farms in the Cala district of the Eastern Cape, as the department was not involved in offering disaster relief.

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According to Mortimer Mannya, DAFF acting director-general, the Eastern Cape issue has not been dealt with at national level, as there were processes to be followed as stipulated in the Disaster Management Act. This followed recent questions posed by the DA on whether Mantashe had been given priority treatment by DAFF due to his position in the ruling party.

In a statement, Annette Steyn, DA spokesperson for agriculture, said that after the fire that affected several farms in Cala, including Mantashe’s, disaster relief was provided in 48 hours. Steyn said farmers, including Mantashe, had received bales of feed from the state and from other farmers who wanted to help.

Steyn said communities in the Langkloof who were affected by severe flooding in 2006 were still waiting for assistance from DAFF. “Other communities in North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo are also waiting for relief after floods that occurred between December 2010 and February 2011,” said Steyn. She added that during a portfolio committee meeting in Parliament recently, DAFF officials said that applications for disaster relief were still pending and funds had not been paid out.

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Mannya said that according to the Disaster Management Act, certain processes had to be followed which started at the municipal, local and provincial levels before the national department became involved. “According to the act, until the disaster is classified otherwise, it will be regarded as a local disaster,” said Mannya.

In the case of the Eastern Cape, Mannya said, the national department was yet to receive the declaration, therefore it was not involved in offering relief. “The reaction and how disasters are dealt with will differ from province to province or municipality to municipality,” he said. In the case of North West, a declaration had been finalised and the department would take it further, said Mannya.