Agriculture committee to assess presidential employment initiative

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development will this week visit the Mpumalanga Provinces to assess the implementation and impact of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiative (PESI) on the agricultural sector.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development received R1 billion, as part of the PESI, in order to assist and provide relief to distressed farmers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Committee Chairperson, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, said during the three-day visit from 29-31 March 2023, the committee will look closely at the challenges reported by some farmers in accessing and redeeming PESI vouchers.

“The visit aims, among other things, to oversee the development of agricultural infrastructure that will enable market access for emerging farmers; assess the impact of climate change and related disasters on agricultural production and farming communities, including government’s response, and oversee the interventions intended to improve surveillance and control of foot-and-mouth disease, which has a negative impact on the export of cloven-hoofed animals and their products.

“The committee will [also] interact with various stakeholders and roleplayers, including representatives of all three spheres of government, traditional leaders, community-based organisations within the sector, and project beneficiaries. Site visits to the PESI beneficiaries will also be conducted as part of the three-day oversight programme,” Mandela said.

Police committee to visit new forensic laboratory in Gqeberha

Meanwhile, the Portfolio Committee on Police will on Thursday undertake an oversight visit to the new Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape.

Committee Chairperson, Tina Joemat-Pettersson noted that as the country intensifies the fight against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and the scourge of murder, a fully efficient FSL function is critical in driving a science led conviction of perpetrators.

“With this in mind, the committee has in the previous three financial years, held various interactions with senior management team of the South African Police Service to deal directly with the more than 240 000 DNA analysis backlog which had a negative impact on the fight against crime, especially cases of GBV and murder.

“The committee welcomed the recent announcement by the Minister that following substantial investment in resources and procurement of necessary consumables, the backlog had been reduced substantially,” Joemat-Pettersson said.

She said the visit will on a broader level serve as a platform to assess the impact of the investments made and lessons learned to ensure that the environment doesn’t experience the backlog again.

“The new Eastern Cape FSL located in Gqeberha is not yet fully operational, and is expected to operate at capacity in April 2023. The visit will assess the readiness of the lab to function to capacity at the start of April as the committee views the additional capacity within the environment as essential to ensure faster analysis of DNA samples,” the chairperson said. 

The committee will later in the day interact with local community policing forums as it views their contribution as critical in the fight against crime in collaboration with the police.

The oversight visits give effect to Section 55(2) of the Constitution (1996), which tasks the National Assembly to provide for mechanisms to ensure that all executive organs of the state in the national sphere of government are accountable to it. –