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STATE OF THE PROVINCE ADDRESS

Premier Mabuyane allocates R60m to fight hunger in Eastern Cape

Premier Mabuyane allocates R60m to fight hunger in Eastern Cape
Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane. (Photo: Gallo Images / Die Burger / Lulama Zenzile)

Four months after the SA Human Rights Commission urged Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane to declare child hunger a State of Disaster, he announced during his State of the Province speech that R60m would be allocated to fighting severe acute malnutrition.

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane said on Thursday his government would allocate R60-million  to help 30,000 high-risk families. Delivering the current administration’s final State of the Province Address, which was marred by unruly EFF members inside the Christian Centre in Abbotsford, East London and community protests outside the venue, Mabuyane said levels of malnutrition in the province remained high.

Read more in Daily Maverick: MEC reveals Eastern Cape’s dire food insecurity statistics

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane and provincial police commissioner Nomthetheleli Mene at the State of the Province Address on Thursday, 22 February 2023. (Photo: Supplied)

While there had been a 3% drop in fatalities from hunger between 2017 and 2022, his administration had noted the concerns raised by the SA Human Rights Commission, which recently urged the premier to declare hunger in the province a disaster.

“As an intervention to address the concerns raised in the Human Rights Commission report, we are investing R60-million to support 30,000 vulnerable households in anti-poverty sites,” Mabuyane said.

Eastern Cape Social Development MEC Bukiwe Fanta recently said her department had a R6.1-million budget for food parcels for the 2023/2024 financial year.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Eating to survive — how to know if your political party is taking hunger seriously

The theme of Mabuyane’s speech was “Seamless progress in building the Eastern Cape we want,” but the EFF said Mabuyane had abused the Sopa to spell out the ANC’s manifesto. EFF members of the provincial legislature were removed for rowdy behaviour. 

“Despite our challenges,” Mabuyane said, “we are resilient, we are decent, and we have shown great humanity to each other in the past five years. We showed up to comfort the families of the children we lost in the Enyobeni Tavern incident. Together, we consoled many families who lost loved ones to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We marched hand in hand to demonstrate our disgust against incidents of gender-based violence that claimed the lives of young women such as Uyinene Mrwetyana, Leighandre Jegels, Nosicelo Mtebeni and other women in our province.

“Similarly, we bowed our heads to acknowledge and honour many departed compatriots who contributed immensely to our struggle for liberation and social cohesion. It is these kinds of selfless acts of ubuntu that make me proud to be a citizen of the Eastern Cape.”  

While claiming success in health, education, infrastructure development and investment in the province, Mabuyane steered clear of commenting on the abysmal state of the Eastern Cape’s provincial and municipal road network and the province’s failing municipalities.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Children are dying of hunger in the Eastern Cape – declare a disaster, urges Human Rights Commission

The longest-serving member of the Eastern Cape legislature, the DA’s Bobby Stevenson, attended his final State of the Province Address before retirement. Stevenson has been a member of the legislature for 25 years.

He said while the DA welcomed the R60-million allocated to fighting hunger it would like to know where this money would come from. 

‘Economic heart attack’

“The premier also failed to account for why he has not yet declared a State of Disaster due to the high prevalence of child malnutrition in the Eastern Cape, as recommended by the SA Human Rights Commission after it revealed that children are dying of starvation.

“Premier Mabuyane has also failed to deal with the appalling state of the roads, which are negatively impacting economic growth and tourism. Roads are the lifeblood of the economy, as arteries are to the heart, and based on the current state of our roads, we are heading for an economic heart attack,” Stevenson said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Blow to Wild Coast tourism as iconic hotel shuts its doors

“The damage to our provincial road network stems from inadequate maintenance over the years, mainly due to underfunding. Only R800-million was allocated to road maintenance for the ’23/24 financial year, but R3.8-billion is needed annually.

“[Mabuyane] failed to address the collapse of local government. He failed to mention that our municipalities are in crisis, with 16 of the 39 in financial distress and five municipalities under administration, which includes 50% of our district municipalities. Provincial interventions to date have amounted to nothing,” Stevenson added.

Mabuyane did, however, say that the economy was not growing at the rate he wanted.

“As a result, many people of working age remain unemployed. Poverty remains a lived experience of many families, despite the government’s expanded social relief interventions. Our economic situation has not been helped by challenges of energy supply, the Covid-19 pandemic, natural disasters and geopolitical conflicts we had to contend with in the past five years,” the premier said.

Stevenson said Mabuyane had broken his promise to halve the unemployment rate, which was 37.4% at the start of his term five years ago. 

“The latest unemployment stats, released on Tuesday, show unemployment [in the Eastern Cape] is 41.7%, the highest in the country. The province’s unemployment is, in fact, 4.3% higher than at the beginning of his term,” Stevenson said. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Frank Fettig says:

    Children starving in South Africa. Such a rich, fertile country! How can this be?
    Another huge feat of the ANC, what else…
    How on earth can you vote for this???

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      I love this. I will be completely useless, destroying thousands if not millions of lives. Then in an election year I will – for just long enough hopefully – make myself look good, by temporarily alleviating the symptoms instead of fixing the problem by spending a huge amount of very limited national funds.

      You are beyond a dishonest fool Mr Mabuyane.

      Dont be fooled my fellow countrymen of the Eastern Cape.

      If you want real, lasting improvement, the best thing ypu can do for yourself and your families is to vote DA in 2024.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    Giving out food parcels is not fighting hunger. Growing food is. Finding jobs is. Providing homes is. food parcel are just that. They alleviate the pain hungry people feel between food parcels. 60 million will feed the hungry for one month if the stats are to be believed. Then what? Another 60? We need much bigger visionary’s than politicians.

  • Denise Smit says:

    Ad this to the social budget of the country. This is how the ANC enslave the populace. Making it so dependent on it that it is necessary to adhere to to survive. Instead the ANC should have created a country where people can flourish by themselves by having jobs. In stead they create (and the Eastern Cape is a good example) a country hostile to investment and business. The ANC co-ruling in the Eastern Cape under ANC joint management has in a year or two destroyed everything that it took the DA years to build up. Worse is still to come for the Eastern Cape under the ANC not better

  • Veronica Baxter says:

    Agreed. The idea of food parcels is also absurd and open to abuse. How are the 30 000 families chosen, is it an election ploy? It’s not sustainable. What is being invested in longer term solutions in addition to the short term? Where are the farming co-operatives? Where is the Dept of Agriculture in this budget allocation?

  • Lynda Tyrer says:

    We know how that R60ml will end up as is always the case with corruption and looting.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Note, the Provincial Police Commissioner has 8 medals…..what an earth for?

  • William Dryden says:

    We are becoming a state of handouts to the majority, why should they try and lift themselves out of poverty by say growing their own vegetables etc, when the state keeps feeding them taxpayers money.

  • Matthew Quinton says:

    “Buy A Man Eat KFC He Day Teach Man To vote A Life Time”….. JZ

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