Cape Town - Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana needs to explain what his department is doing to ensure that jobs are saved and what containment measures are in place in the poultry industry in view of the bird flue outbreak, the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday.
The DA would ask agriculture, forestry, and fisheries portfolio committee chairwoman Machwene Semenya to summon Zokwana to brief parliament on his department’s contingency plans to stop further job losses following the spread of the bird flu virus in South Africa, DA spokeswoman Annette Steyn said.
"The minister must brief parliament about what his department is doing to ensure that jobs can be saved and containment measures are in place in the industry. Zokwana must assure South Africans, especially businesses that employ thousands of people which have been negatively impacted by this mess, that his department is on top of this impending crisis," she said.
More cases of the outbreak had been recorded in six provinces and this posed major threats to the poultry industry with 111,000 direct and indirect agricultural jobs at risk. There had already been job losses due to the spread of the virus.
"The truth is that if minister Zokwana does not have contingency plans in place this crisis can reach unacceptable proportions. To date, more than 600,000 birds have been culled due to the department of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries' (DAFF) seeming failure to urgently implement appropriate control measures," she said.
The DA was also extremely concerned by the tardy response on how the poultry industry would be compensated when culling took place. It was totally unacceptable that no funding had been made available for this.
Zokwana had to ensure that the department worked with the affected producers to bring an end to even more job losses in the poultry sector. The DA would not rest until Zokwana addressed the public and reassured South Africans that his department had a proper plan to prevent jobs losses in the poultry sector, Steyn said.
African News Agency