Freedom Front Plus
Freedom Front Plus

Importance of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment must not be overlooked

(Budget vote debate in Parliament: Forestry, Fisheries and Environment)

The shrinking budget of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment is alarming.

The importance of the work done by this Department and its entities must not be overlooked.

Without it, food security will never be within our reach, everyone's health will be jeopardised, schools and even our entire human existence will ultimately disappear.

Therefore, the budget allocated to the Department, which comprises just 0,41% of total state expenditure amounting to R2,16 trillion, is inadequate.

The increased budget allocations to the programmes for regulatory compliance and sector monitoring as well as to chemical and waste management are welcomed, particularly in light of the poor condition of municipal dumping sites.

The budget allocations to the programmes for oceans and coastal regions, climate change, air quality and sustainable development, biodiversity and conservation, forestry and fishery management have, however, all been reduced.

If the loss of lives and damages suffered in the recent floods in KwaZulu-Natal, and South Africa's lack of readiness to handle disasters and its ill-preparedness for dealing with climate change are taken into account, it makes no sense to cut the budgets of these programmes.

Even the South African Weather Service's budget was reduced although it is vital that knowledge is available on the changes in weather patterns in and around South Africa.

According to experts, the eastern parts of South Africa will experience even more extreme weather conditions in the coming year.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in the Eastern Cape is just a few days away from day zero, while other parts of the same province have basically been washed away along with KwaZulu-Natal.

Likewise, the Northern Cape endured severe droughts for many years just to be plagued by floods, gnats and locusts soon after.

Protecting and conserving South Africa's marine life to ensure that certain fish species do not go extinct due to overfishing is also extremely important. The allocation of fishing rights goes hand in hand with that.

The country's rivers must not be forgotten either; they are being polluted by dozens of dysfunctional sewage plants in various municipalities. Combating this kind of pollution must be prioritised.

Seven years ago, this Department was a high-performance organisation and although the Department's audit outcomes have since improved, more needs to be done to protect our valuable environment and natural resources.

Fortunately, there is hope with Minister Barbara Creecy and her team at the steer of things.

The swift clean-up of the recent diesel pollution in the Thabo Mofutsanyane and Fezile Dabi Districts in the Free State, caused by theft from diesel pipelines, serves as proof that the Minister is serious about environmental conservation and will take decisive action to address and solve problems.

We are, however, responsible for conserving our planet for future generations and we must all do more to protect it.




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