An appeal to Minister Radebe to Intervene in the Eastern Cape
Partners within the business, agriculture and Ndlambe Municipality have faith that the challenges, as well as the local's concerns, can develop for a national intervention due to the actions of Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, who in fact, recently paid a visit to Port Alfred.
According to Radebe, the sole purpose of the area was to celebrate the ANC's 106th birthday in the Eastern Cape. However, the Minister did arrange a conference with the farmers and local business owners at MyPond Hotel, to discuss various matters.
Mayor of Ndlambe, Phindile Faxi, stated that the meeting had been arranged as a reflection in regards to Nedlac (National Economic Development and Labour Council). This also comprises of various participants, such as the government, labour, civil society and the stakeholders.
43 Air School
An issue that arose from the meeting was from Port Alfreds, 43 Air School.
The Financial Director, Shaun Musson stated that was in a position of non-compliance ever since the South African Civil Aviation had an audit done and discovered that the barrier surrounding the airfield was inadequate in regards to the prevention of animal and human access.
The school was a victim of a robbery in the past. The thieves stole various objects such as runway lights and electrical cables. To stop this from reoccurring, the school implemented the usage of solar-power lights which they use at the start of the day and pack away before closing time.
Musson said. “We now have a severe finding against us with regards to the fence. Usually, we are given 14 days to rectify it. If they apply the letter of the law itself, they could take our airport licence away and then we would have to leave Port Alfred.”
According to Musson, the school was an R150 million organisation and invested around R30 million each year into the economy.
“1 000 people would be affected if we can no longer operate,” said Musson.
Another issue in Port Alfred located in the Eastern Cape, is the lack of water. Musson stated that international students could not shower for up to three days.
Storage systems have been installed, however, because of the quality of water, the filters do not last long.
According to the Musson, using grass runways is acceptable for training, but it’s a problem when it gets water-logged from the rain. It's not suitable for scheduled flights and due to the tourist attraction; it’s a problem they would like to face fast and head-on.
Ndlambe community protection service director, Fanie Fouche, community presented the various problems that the municipality are facing, in categories such as waste and environmental management, as well as infrastructure.
The bulk water plan for Ndlambe, it not completed. Even though 90% of the Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant is done.
Fouche said, "The RO plant will only deal with quality of water, not provide additional water".
According to Fouche, there is a problem regarding the roads infrastructure in the Eastern Cape, as a result if unanticipated growth in the area.
Another current, pressing issue in Port Alfred is the sewerage, as it’s a waterborne sewage and depends on vacuum tankers to empty conservancy tanks. The national government heard a motivation from Fouche requesting R300- million, so the issue can be addressed.
According to Fouche, sanitation is a huge problem, mostly in the festive season.
Actual cases against Ndlambe were mentioned, which included a high court application from the
Kenton-on-Sea Ratepayers Association regarding the Marselle dump, which caused a judgement against the local municipality.
R25 million is required to open a new dump, as well as rehabilitate the closed landfill.
High Court Judgement
Agri Eastern Cape got a judgment against Ndlambe in regards to their management of municipal commonages. Fouche admitted that it had been a challenge addressing it.
However, the removal of alien plants could be a means of providing employment.
According to Agri EC spokesman, Brent McNamara, there is a problem when it comes to stray cattle, as well as commonage management and alien vegetation.
“The various commonages and farms managed by the municipality are a threat to agriculture,” McNamara said,
While also discussing the risk to bio-security regarding alien invasive vegetation and sick animals. Many of the municipal-owned facilities were springboards for stock theft.
According to McNamara, the rural road network was substantial. However, the maintenance was "shocking".
Adding on, McNamara stated that local land reformed projects have failed due to "failures in the functioning of the District Land Reform Committees, the lack of post-settlement support, a flawed and corrupt beneficiary selection process, the fact that the Sarah Baartman District Agri Park Programme has achieved nothing in two years, the abuse of the recapitalisation programme and the lack of management over the numerous municipal and state-owned farms resulting in almost zero production and systematic degradation of the agricultural resource."
McNamara credited dairy farmer, Walter Biggs, by saying that one of the land reform project, run by Tshilidze "Chill" Matshidzula, was deemed successful due to the input of a local commercial farmer, rather than the government.
A few challenges Biggs came across in the dairy industry was the irrigation, lack of government support and irrigation.
Jonathan Bradfield, a local pineapple farmer, stated that he also has experienced disappoint in working with the government.
Despite being friends with Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti, starting the agriculture enterprise with his employees has been a problem because his attempt had been "torpedoed" by officials in Nkwinti's sector.
Bradfield stated that he was never paid by the department for services rendered.
Radebe responded by dealing with only a handful of pointed out issues while showing embarrassment for Bradfield, surprise over the roads and concern for the air school.
Radebe invoked Operations Phakisa, in which many government departments take part in, to address challenges and plead for everyone to "work together.