Disaster Management Amendment Bill: deliberations

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

14 April 2015
Chairperson: Mr M Mdakane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee Content Adviser read through amended clauses in the Disaster Management Amendment Bill [B10—2015]. The reading was cross-referenced to the principal Act, the Disaster Management Act, Act 57 of 2002. Explanatory comments were provided. Definitions were amended to be in accord with international terminology. The clause dealing with the National Disaster Management Centre was amended to state that the Centre had to function within a department of state, for which the Minister would be responsible. There were various amended clauses that granted greater responsibilities to the Minister, vis-à-vis the Director-General. National organs of state were required to conduct disaster risk assessments, and this was extended to provincial and municipal organs of state. Local municipalities had to establish capacity for the development and coordination of disaster management plans.

In discussion, the Content Adviser pointed out that there were no amendments related to insurance for disaster volunteers. The Chairperson and Members advised caution in the matter. There could be unintended consequences and it could create an unworkable situation. With regard to public hearings, it was suggested that the hearings not become a platform for specialist and marginal groups. It was proposed that academics from previously disadvantaged universities like the University of the Western Cape and Fort Hare be involved. It was noted that the Department of Environmental Affairs took a keen interest in disaster management, and could be invited to public hearings.

A briefing by the Minister was requested on Equitable Share Grants which had been withheld from 60 municipalities. The Chairperson agreed that the Minister could speak to the broader political problem.

Public hearings on the Bill were scheduled for 21 and 22 April. The Bill would be adopted on 5 May, to proceed to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). The Chairperson advised that the NCOP be present at public hearings, to avoid duplication.

Meeting report

Introduction by the Chairperson
The Chairperson told Members that the clause-by-clause deliberation was for the purpose of familiarising the Committee with the Disaster Management Amendment Bill, prior to public hearings. The amendment process would continue until 5 May.

Clause-by-clause deliberations
Mr Dikgape Makobe, Committee Content Adviser, read through the proposed amendments, with explanatory comments.

Amendment of section 1 of Act 57 of 2002
Proposed amendments were to the definitions of ‘adaptation’; ‘climate change’; ‘Department’; ‘disaster risk reduction’; ‘ecosystem’; ‘emergency preparedness’; ‘mitigation’; ‘municipality’; ‘organ of state’; ‘post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation’; ‘risk assessment’, and 'vulnerability'.

Amendments to definitions were to bring it in line with current international definitions, and to facilitate a simpler implementation of definitions.

Amendment of section 5 of Act 57 of 2002
Subparagraph (vi) of paragraph (e) of subsection (1) would add to traditional leaders... the following:  as recommended by the National House of Traditional Leaders established by section 2 of the National House of Traditional Leaders Act.

Section 5 would also be amended by the addition of subsection (4): “The Forum serves as the South African National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction”.

Mr Makobe noted that compliance was sought with international agreements that required a national forum.

Mr C Matsepe (DA) noted that there were traditional leaders who were not recognised by government. Some leaders did not have local status. There was contestation.

Substitution of section 8 of Act 57 of 2002
It was proposed that section 8 in the principal Act be substituted by:

8. [(1)] A National Disaster Management Centre is established as an institution within the public service.
(2) The National Centre forms part of, and functions within, a department of state for which the Minister is responsible.

Mr Makobe noted that the centre had to be a government component that would report directly to the Minister, and could cut across all departments in the event of a disaster.

Substitution of section 11 of Act 57 of 2002
The term “Minister” would be substituted for “Director General” when an acting head of the National Centre had to be designated.

Mr M Matlhoko (EFF) remarked that questions had to be put to those who had drafted the Bill.

The Chairperson said that there would have to be a presentation by those who had drafted the Bill.

Mr N Masondo (ANC) advised that the Committee not get lost in detail. A future presentation had to focus on structures created and how the various structures were related.

The Chairperson said that motivations for the amendments had to be given. The Department had to present to the Committee, so that decisions could also be made on possible further amendments. There had as yet been no House of Traditional Leaders when the Act was established. It was important to know which structures would be in place to mitigate disaster. The amendments would give greater responsibility to the Minister, in relation to the Director General. Structures had to be in place at the district and local level. Local municipalities had to have structure. It was stated that the Bill had to be in line with international conventions. During the tsunami, provinicial structures were destrroyed, and local authorities had no role to play.

Amendment of section 13 of Act 57 of 2002
Head of the National Centre would be substituted for Director-General of the Department, regarding secondment to the National Centre.

Amendment of section 15 of Act 57 of 2002
A paragraph would be inserted to the effect that the South African Defence Force (SADF), the South African Police Service (SAPS) and any other organ of state could be called on to assist disaster management structures.

Mr Makobe remarked that entities like Eskom and Transnet had to have more capacity to assist with disaster management.
Amendment of section 22 of Act 57 of 2002
Minister was substituted for Director-General of the Department.

Amendment of section 23 of Act 57 of 2002
A paragraph would be inserted to the effect that the relevant provincial disaster management centre had to be informed of the decision about the classification of a disaster.

Amendment to section 24 of Act 57 of 2002
Subsections would be added to the effect that each organ of state had to report  on a quarterly basis to the National Centre on any occurrence leading to the declaration of a disaster.

Mr Makobe noted that municipalities would have to report to intergovernmental forums. The amendments did not prescribe how additional monies were to be granted to municipalities. Funding options had to be looked at.

Amendment of section 25 of Act 57 of 2002
Subsection (1) of the principal Act would be substituted by a new subsection that added:  Each national organ of state must--- inter alia, conduct a disaster risk assessment for its functional area. Each national organ of state had to regularly review and update its plan.

A paragraph would be added that The National Centre must make available applicable disaster management plans of organs of state to relevant provincial and municipal disaster management centres.

Amendment of section 38 of Act 57 of 2002
Mr Makobe noted that the amendment was cross-referenced to section 25. In section 38 the requirement to conduct a disaster risk assessment was extended to Each provincial organ of state.

Mr K Mileham (DA) asked why there were no provisions for public entities at the provincial level. The Eastern Cape Development Company had to have a disaster management plan.

Mr M Mapulane (ANC) asked what the provincial organs of state were.

The Chairperson advised that questions be flagged to the Department. Public entities were not necessarily organs of state.

Amendment of section 43 of Act 57 of 2002
Subsections would be added to the effect that local municipalities had to establish capacity for the development and co-ordination of a disaster management plan.

Mr Makobe noted that there had to be agreement with district disaster management functions.

Amendment of section 52 of Act 57 of 2002
The amendment extended the requirement of disaster risk assessment for a functional area to Each municipal organ of state other than a municipality.

Amendment of section 53 of Act 57 of 2002
The amendment extended the requirement of disaster risk assessment for a municipal area to Each municipality.

Amendment of section 59 of Act 57 of 2002
Regarding the making of regulations by the minister, the amendment would add: …concerning the focus areas of the national disaster management education, training and research frameworks; and concerning the declaration and classification of disasters.

Subsitution of long title of Act 57 of 2002
The amendment added …and rehabilitation to post- disaster recovery. And functioning was added to …the establishment of national, provincial and municipal disaster management centres.

Mr Makobe noted that academics had done work on international definitions. It was suggested that the short title be amended to “disaster risk management”.

Mr Makobe remarked that there was no amendment that addressed the issue of risk insurance for volunteers. The City of Cape Town made extensive use of volunteers during the recent fire outbreaks. The question was what small municipalities were doing.

The Chairperson said that the issue had to be flagged. People travelled from afar to help as volunteers.

Mr Masondo remarked that it was a controversial issue. Volunteers were not covered by insurance. Labour law presented difficulties. It was difficult to get volunteers. Care had to be taken that insurance requirements not create an unworkable situation.

The Chairperson remarked that in the event of a disaster like an earthquake everybody would have to work. If there was to be motivation for insurance it had to be asked what the implications were. All legislation had unintended consquences. He asked about regulations.

Mr Makobe replied that the Minister could issue regulations concerning education, training and research. The Department could explain further.

Mr Mapulane referred to (3) (b) (ii) on page 12 of the principal Act. He asked if Eskom and Telkom were seen as organs of state. Most amendments were of a technical nature. The National Disaster Management Centre had to have a detailed account of organs of state. The cost implications of giving effect to establishment of centres, had to be considered. The question was whether the National House of Traditional Leaders would sit in the centres.

Mr Makobe proposed that there be follow up on questions asked. Key stakeholders would be invited, including the Disaster Management Institute; practitioners in local government; the South African Local Government Association (SALGA); the National House of Traditional Leaders;  the African Centre for Disaster Studies; the Disaster Management Centre at Venda, and various academics from the universities of UNISA, Stellenbosch and the Free State, among others. There was a global network of civil society organisations.

Hearings could take place on 21 and 22 April, with further deliberations on 30 April. The Bill could be adopted on 5 May, to proceed to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

Mr Masondo suggested that academics from the former bush univerties (Apartheid institutions) be reached out to. The University of the Western Cape (UWC) and University of Fort Hare were suggested. Possibilities could be thought through. The Committee had to guard against the public hearings becoming a platform for specialist and marginal organisations. Some of those tended to be ultra-leftist. Organisations on the ground had to be involved. Such organisations could balance out knowledgable individuals who were not grounded.

The Chairperson reminded Members that whoever was invited had to be paid for. That placed limitations. Universities had to be invited. He suggested that the NCOP be invited to public hearings, to avoid duplication later on. It was advisable that the NCOP be present together with SALGA.

Mr Mapulane suggested that the various structures of the Advisory Forum be represented. The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) had a keen interest in disasters.

The Chairperson said that poor organisations had to be paid for, but the Universities could pay for academics. The Parliamentary legal team had to be be present at a future clause-by-clause deliberation.

Mr Mileham remarked that the equitable share grant had been withheld from 60 municipalities. He asked that the Minister brief the Committee on the matter. Municipalities provided the basic services of water, electricity and sanitation.

Mr Mapulane responded that the grants would be released at some point. Repayment plans had to be submitted to Eskom.

The Chairperson agreed that the Minister could speak on the matter.

Mr Mileham submitted that if a portion of the equitable share was withheld, municipalities would be less able to buy from Eskom.

The Chairperson said that Eskom had to be mindful of the fact that if there were cuts for non-payment everybody would suffer. There were local authorities with no revenue. The Minister could speak to the broader political problem.

Mr Mileham asked when there would be a report on Mohalekwena.

The Chairperson replied that it would be ready by the end of May.

Mr Mapulane agreed that the Portfolio Committee had to liase with the Minister on the equitable share grant, as a matter of urgency. A briefing was needed. SALGA and the Ministry had to speak with one voice.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee programme would be adopted at the next meeting. The work areas of Committees would be set out. Key priorities of government had to be reflected in the programme. The Committee had to formulate a budget. There would be joint oversight with the Department of Water and Sanitation and the Department of Human Settlements. Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) funding had to be discussed. The Committee had to adopt a programme for the following three months. The Disaster Management Amendment Bill had to be concluded in the first week of May. The NCOP had to be drawn in.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

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