'Forget about Parliament extensions, help farmers'

About R1.4-billion intended to build extensions to the existing Parliament should rather be spent on flood relief, farmers’ union the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU SA) said on Tuesday.

“Government will have sufficient funds to help stricken farmers who were affected by floods during December last year until February this year, if they spend the R1.4-billion on the farmers, rather than using that money for building a new Parliament,” assistant general manager Henk van der Graaf said in a statement.

He was commenting on a report in Beeld newspaper that the government was planning to build a new meeting chamber, shaped like a Zulu hut, and office complex opposite the existing Parliament in Cape Town.

Speaker Max Sisulu was expected to announce the plans next Tuesday, the paper reported.

Van der Graaf said TAU SA objected to the fact that subsistence farmers would receive a 90% subsidy from government, while commercial farmers would only receive 40%.

“Flood assistance should be given to farmers so that they can continue to farm confidently in order to keep their workers employed and to produce the necessary food to maintain South Africa’s food stocks at sustainable levels.”

He said failure to ensure that commercial farmers returned to full productivity would have a negative impact on businesses and employment.—Sapa

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