Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma on Thursday conceded that the drought being experienced across South Africa was an impediment to economic growth, but again stopped short of calling it a national disaster.
“One of the domestic constraints to growth in our country currently is the severe drought. It threatens the livelihoods of our people and has pushed most of the farmers to the edge of financial ruin,” Zuma said while opening the National House of Traditional Leaders in Parliament.
Zuma said, while several government departments were enforcing plans to to help those affected and reprioritising funding towards drought relief, it would not completely alleviate the plight of farmers.
“There are shortfalls and there is still a need for assistance on the ground. It is a difficult period for farmers and communities alike. “But working together, we will overcome this hardship. We always overcome our challenges because we work together as South Africans when faced with difficulties,” he said.
Zuma said farmers and ordinary South Africans alike would feel the pinch. “They have seen their livestock die which has cost a lot of money,” the president said.
“Food prices will go up because of the drought.”
Five provinces - KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga - have been declared provincial disaster areas.
Meat and grain producers have predicted a steep rise in food prices as maize yields are expected to be lower and animals die as a result of a lack of feed and water.
AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY