Disaster Management Amendment Bill [B10B-2015]: consideration & adoption; Committee Report on Makana Local Municipality

NCOP Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements

22 September 2015
Chairperson: Mr M Mhlanga (ANC, Mpumalanga) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to consider and adopt a C-list on the Disaster Management Amendment Bill, to consider and adopt the Committee’s fourth term programme, and to table the report of the Makana Local Municipality.

The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) briefed the Committee about the amendments to the bill. These included a provision for representatives of national umbrella organisations for vulnerable groups to form part of the National Disaster Management advisory forum. A new clause had been recommended to make provision for the staff of provincial disaster management centres to be aligned with the provisions in the principal Act. A new insertion allowed the provincial House of Traditional Leaders to nominate members, whereas the original clause involved the nomination of representatives by the national House. A clause had been added to ensure the integration of the provincial disaster management plan with the national and municipal disaster management plans. A section had been inserted to address issues with staff of municipal disaster management centres, to ensure that suitably qualified persons were appointed in the administration of the municipality. Provision had been made for consultation by municipalities with the local community on the preparation or amendment of its disaster management plans. The inclusion was aimed to ensure that communities formed part of the process in terms of existing procedures and mechanisms in place.

A major concern was raised by the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) over the funding of disaster management functions. There appeared to be a fundamental flaw in the process, as conditional grants were applicable only to actual disasters and there was no funding for the disaster management function. No funding would be included in the next financial year for municipalities for disaster management, since the process was just unfolding. Furthermore, funding for disaster management was not provided in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). SALGA was fully supportive of disaster management, but it would be counter-productive to go ahead with legislation or assign functions or obligations to local governments which were inadequately funded.

The NDMF responded that the Department had obtained legal opinion regarding issues of under-funding, which clarified that the amendment bill did not bring about a new function for the government, as the function had been established since the promulgation of the Act in 2003. A lot of progress had been made in terms of providing for grant funding, specifically when disasters occurred. It added that there had been significant improvements in the formal qualifications required for people working in disaster management -- the Disaster Management Institute of South Africa had recently gained recognition in terms of the National Qualifications Act as a professional body for disaster management, which required staff to have degrees and relevant managerial and decision-making skills.

The Committee reached a consensus to adopt the C-list and forward it to the provinces.

The Committee Secretary advised that legislation and interventions had been prioritised for the fourth term programme. The Makana Local Municipality report was still a draft and needed to be duly processed before it became a proper report.

Meeting report

Election of Acting Chairperson

In absence of the Chairperson due to health reasons, Mr M Mhlanga (ANC, Mpumalanga) was nominated by Members to chair the meeting.

Disaster Management Amendment Bill [B10-2015]

Ms Ané Bruwer, Executive Manager, National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), presented the proposed amendments to the Disaster Management Amendment Bill. She said the first amendment was an addition to Clause 2 of the bill. The inclusion made provision for representatives of national umbrella organisations for vulnerable groups -- women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities -- to form part of the National Disaster Management advisory forum.

A new clause had been recommended in respect of section 31a of the clause, to make provision for the staff of provincial disaster management centres, in response to challenges raised by provinces, to be aligned with the provisions in the principal Act. It required that the staff be comprised of the head of the provincial disaster management centre and suitably qualified persons designated by the head of department within which the provincial disaster management centre was established.

Clause 12 was rejected due to a new insertion, which allowed the provincial House of Traditional Leaders to nominate members. The original clause involved the nomination of representatives by the national House.

Clause 13b was a mere duplication of the National Disaster Management advisory forum, to make provision for the national umbrella organisations for vulnerable groups, to ensure its implementation across all spheres of government.

Clause 13 on page five of the bill had been substituted by Clause 14, and a new clause had been added to ensure the alignment of the provincial disaster management plan with the national and municipal disaster management plans.

There had been an insertion of section 45a in the Act to address issues with staff of municipal Disaster Management Centres, to ensure that suitably qualified persons were appointed in the administration of the municipality.

Section 51 of the act had been amended to ensure that traditional leaders for the municipal Disaster Management Forum were elected from the local House of Traditional Leaders.

The amendment also catered for representation by provincial umbrella organisations for vulnerable groups.

There had been an addition to Clause 18 to ensure that appropriate mechanisms and procedures were established in terms of Chapter 4 of the Local Government Municipal Systems Act 2000, to consult the local community on the preparation or amendment of its plan. The inclusion was to ensure that communities formed part of the process in terms of existing procedures and mechanisms in place.

Mr Gary Rhoda, Parliamentary legal adviser, said that following consultation with state law advisers and the parliamentary legal adviser’s office, there were no concerns with the C-list. As a result, the office was in agreement with the content offered in the list.

The Chairperson explained that the C-list was awaiting adoption by the Committee before its consolidation into a D-list for provinces to conduct their final mandates. He then welcomed engagements from members.

Discussion

Mr Dimitri Collins, Chairperson, South African Local Government Association (SALGA), Western Cape, said a fundamental concern over funding was not covered in the amendment. There appeared to be a fundamental flaw in the process, as conditional grants were applicable only to actual disasters and there was no funding for the disaster management function. SALGA had participated in engagements with the task team which had been set up to address funding issues across the three spheres of government, and had put forward proposals on how improvements could be enacted. He said that no funding would be included in the next financial year for municipalities for disaster management, since the process was just unfolding. Furthermore, funding for disaster management was not provided in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). SALGA was fully supportive of disaster management, but it would be counter-productive to go ahead with legislation or assign functions or obligations to local governments which were inadequately funded.

Mr M Chetty (DA, KwaZulu-Natal) agreed with Mr Collins, and also expressed his concern about unfunded mandates. He said that each province that had presented its negotiating mandates had raised concerns about unfunded mandates. He expressed shock about the failure of the Department to address issues relating to unfunded mandates, and sought clarity on the matter.

Ms T Wana (ANC, Eastern Cape) enquired about the number of representatives required for umbrella organisations. Would traditional leaders occupy strategic platforms, and would their communities be covered by the outcomes of disaster management? She also asked about the credentials or qualifications required for provincial disaster management staff.

Ms Bruwer responded that as regards representation of umbrella organisations, the intention of the advisory forums was to discuss matters of disaster management in specific areas of responsibility. The forums included the role players in disaster management, and were required to have representatives rather than the participation of every single organisation. As regards staff credentials, she said that there had been significant improvements in the formal qualifications required for persons working in disaster management. The Disaster Management Institute of South Africa had recently gained recognition in terms of the National Qualifications Act as a professional body for disaster management, and it required staff to have degrees and relevant managerial and decision-making skills.

The amendment also made provision for the Minister to make regulations on education, training and public awareness.

As regards the inclusion of traditional leaders, she said that only a representative of the traditional house was included in the advisory forum.

Addressing funding issues, she said that although the Department acknowledged that funding was a challenge, funding was not a unique challenge for disaster management. The Department had obtained a legal opinion from state law advisers regarding issues of under-funding, and it had been clarified that the amendment bill did not bring about a new function for government, as the function had been established since the promulgation of the Act in 2003. She said there were 62 disaster management centres across the spheres of government, and confirmed that the Department had made attempts to identify challenges in the existing mechanisms and how they could be optimised. A lot of progress had been made in terms of providing for grant funding, specifically when disasters occurred.

The Chairperson asked about the progress of the established task team which was aiming to make proposals on mechanisms to deal with the highlighted funding issues.

Ms Bruwer said feedback had been received from the task team members on how contributions could be made, and the specific areas of questions that would be put forward. The Department planned to conduct research at local municipalities to identify the challenges and processes. The situation differed around the country, but the Department had identified a methodology to target specific municipalities in which studies would be conducted. The criteria would include targeting under-resourced municipalities, struggling municipalities, and municipalities prone to disasters.

Mr Collins expressed his satisfaction over the identification of the funding problem by the Department. He said that district municipalities were currently under-funded. The current procedures for funding could not be rushed, even when there were disasters, which made timeous funding for disaster management more cumbersome. Using the KZN drought as an example, he said that funds were often received late, even when they were provided.

Mr L Nzimande (ANC, KZN) said that in terms of the negotiating mandate tabled at the previous meetings of the committee, issues of the provision of grant funding, traditional participation and the importance of the vulnerable groups, had been addressed in the C-list. Issues raised on budgeting for the prevention of disasters remained unresolved. He said that the C-list should be released by the Committee to the legislature to engage on it, and then proposed that the Committee endorse and refer the list to the provinces.

The Chairperson inquired about a timeframe for the studies being conducted by the task team.

Ms Bruwer responded that terms of reference were still being developed and SALGA was being engaged to assist in conducting research. There was currently no time frame as the process needed to be decided upon.

The Chairperson requested Members to propose the adoption of the C-list. Mr Nzimande proposed the adoption, and was seconded by Ms Wana.

Mr Collins asked if the terms of reference developed would be referred to the provinces.

The Chairperson said that the procedure involved a referral to the Committee for consideration before being sent to the provinces.

Mr Collins emphasised that the funding concern had been raised in an attempt to ensure that the issue would be considered and not ignored.

Mr Nzimande said a great challenge had been posed, since the task team had not been structured by the Committee. This was being done by unknown stakeholders and as a result, the task team might not assist the Committee in making informed decisions, as the terms of reference were not known.

Committee matters

Mr J Julius (DA, Gauteng) sought clarity on the Makana Local Municipality report

Mr Nzimande enquired about the fourth term plan of the Committee and about the role of the Joint Management Committee in the plan.

Mr Moses Manele, Committee Secretary, said that there were five days to work on the COGTA programme for the fourth term, and legislation and interventions had been prioritised. There was a proposal that 30 October be chosen for the submission of voting mandates on the Disaster Management Amendment bill. There was another proposal to have oversight visits to the Western Cape and KZN on 10 and 11 November.

As regards Makana report, he said that the report was still a draft and needed to be processed before it became a proper report.

The meeting was adjourned.

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