For the second time in just under four years, South Africa and the Southern African Development Community are faced with drought, just two years after the devastation wrought by the 2015-16 drought, the region's worst in nearly 40 years. Extremely high temperatures and poor rainfall have sounded alarm bells in the region. Already, the severity of the drought is being felt in the Western Cape. There, key industries such as wine and fruit production and tourism are under strain because of water shortages. Parts of the Eastern Cape, including Port Elizabeth, have also been affected. Should the dry spell persist, agriculture economists warn, it would threaten summer crops planted this season. Climate experts, however, are divided over what the dry spell across the northern parts of the country means for the maize belt. Some are of the view that the dry spell in the first weeks of January was normal and there is no drought. Peter Johnston, a climate scientist at the University of Cape To...

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