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Govt 'dealing with' provinces affected by drought

The North West, Limpopo, KZN and the Free State have been declared as disaster zones.

The North West, Limpopo, KZN and the Free State have been declared as disaster zones. Picture: Freeimages.com

CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma has rejected calls to have all provinces declared disaster areas amid a crippling water crisis.

Replying to questions in the National Assembly yesterday, Zuma said an inter-ministerial committee was dealing with the issue.

The North West, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State have already been declared disaster zones.

Zuma says these provinces are the worst affected.

"And measures are being taken to those specific areas. If people say it's not enough, that is their view, but what government has done has been watching and monitoring how the drought has been affecting specific areas."

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder has called for more disaster relief for farmers.

"I'm asking if there are time frames of when support will come, otherwise the support will be too late."

ROOIBOS PRICE INCREASE

The price of Rooibos could increase by up to 90 percent next year as production levels are expected take a dive due to a drought.

The 2016 harvest is expected to be below last year's 11,000 tons.

The South African Rooibos Council's Ernest du Toit says t demand massive on the international market.

"In many of the international markets, Germany, Holland and Japan, the product is a very priced product, so the price elasticity there in the international markets is higher than in local markets.

"So it's likely that in the early shortage, the demand will push the price up, both locally and internationally, by 50 percent, 90 percent or more."

At the same time, Gauteng residents are being urged to change their behaviour towards water consumption and start harvesting the resource in case the taps run dry.

The provincial government, Rand Water and various stakeholders have embarked on a mass campaign to educate the public about the severity of the situation.

Gauteng may also have to assist neighbouring provinces, some of which have already been declared disaster areas, due to extreme temperatures and no major rainfall.

Human Settlements MEC Jacob Mamabolo said many people are not aware that water is scarce and shortages and cuts are a real possibility.

Mamabolo said this means every household must start harvesting water in tanks and other devices for personal use.

"If there is no water in your area, we will ask if you bought a water tank."

The province has had low rainfall this past winter with dam levels said to be under strain.

The West Coast and some parts of the Breede River have been described as moderately to extremely dry.

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