South Africa: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Committee Concludes Oversight in Free State Province

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries concluded its week-long oversight in Free State province yesterday.

The committee broke up into two groups yesterday in order to have sufficient time at each of the various projects it visited.

At the Fezile Dabi Fish project, a two-year community based project with an estimated cost of R130 million on completion, the committee observed that R20.5 million was paid to the implementing agent for work done up to stage 3, comprising concept drawings, a feasibility study, an environmental impact assessment and the geotechnical report. On site were the beneficiaries, implementing agent and departmental officials. It is envisaged that this project will create employment for 150 to 200 people.

The committee has requested that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) together with its provincial counterpart and the implementing agent brief the committee on the feasibility study, project implementation plan, environmental impact assessment and a breakdown of payments to the implementing agent, amongst other supporting documents. The committee Chairperson, Ms Machwene Semenya, also advised the DAFF to ensure that the beneficiaries are kept abreast of developments on the project at all times.

At Vrede Dairy Project, the committee observed about 167 cows on site and viewed the milking process and infrastructure. The DAFF had not submitted the project profile to the committee prior to the visit and no departmental officials were onsite, as they were preparing for an appearance in court the next day. The committee has requested all supporting documents on this project as well. The committee also encouraged the project managers to grow their own feed for the cows, thus creating further employment.

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development at the Free State Legislature reported that since the investigation and curatorship of the project, the provincial legislature has been liaising with the provincial department. After the legislature adopts the report, Parliament will engage with the provincial legislature and provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to ensure that the intended beneficiaries see some results.

Source: Republic of South Africa: The Parliament