Amendment Bill [B8-2017], to be briefed on the fire disaster situation in the Western Cape, and to receive a report back on the outcome of the Indigenous and Traditional Leadership Indaba.
When the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Amendment Bill came up for discussion, the DA argued that procedurally the Committee should not be discussing amendments to a bill without an amended draft before it. How was the Committee expected to decide on a Bill without a C version? It thought the bill had to be approved by Parliament before August 2017, but at the rate the process was proceeding, that would not happen.
The ANC countered that as far as it was concerned, the Committee was supposed to just adopt the amendments, as they had already been discussed previously. The postponement of adoption had been delayed by the Committee discovering there had been a new clause which had not been there initially. It moved and adopted the bill, with the DA strongly objecting to some clauses.
The Committee then received an update on the fire disasters in the Western Cape from the Deputy Minister, who had visited the area with the Minister and Premier of the Western Cape, and from the national and provincial disaster management centres.
Preliminary assessments for damage and losses had not included private sector losses, which would be dealt with by insurance companies. Although final assessments were still to come through, the amount of damage to public infrastructure currently stood at R285 950 000. The joint operational committee had spent a lot of time in planning, as the Western Cape was a disaster prone province and to date it was dealing with more than seven declared disasters.
Tribute was paid to the firefighters from Cape Nature and those from Working on Fire, which had activated its firefighters from as far as Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal to assist. Two fire fighters had been injured in a fire, and one had subsequently succumbed to his wounds.
The Committee asked:
- What the current status of the flare ups was.
- What was the status of the investigation into the causes of the fire? What had been done to pre-position resources ahead of the fire disaster -- in particular the air support from the South African National Defence Force -- and how long did it take to get that support?
- How many schools had been affected in the Eden District and what had been done with learners from affected schools? How many factories had been burned down in that district and did the job losses alluded to include those from burned down factories?
- What interventions had been put in place for those whose informal houses had been burnt down?
- What was the extent of the NDMC relationship with SANDF in the use of extensive SANDF resources in times of disasters?
- How did the NDMC assist municipalities in providing equipment that matched a common standard, and how did it ensure that those worked when disaster struck?
The Committee then considered the statement of intent for the adopted declaration of the Indigenous and Traditional Leadership Indaba
The Deputy Minister said the core mandate of the Indaba was to explore issues that always surfaced in every debate when Traditional Leaders engaged the President of the Republic during the opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL). COGTA had therefore decided to engage the NHTL. Issues of policy, constitutionality and the harmonisation of relationships between the NHTL, government, communities and other sectors of society had been discussed, as well as the promotion of nation building and social cohesion in the context of ‘Ubuntu.’ Whether there was common understanding of Chapter 12 of the constitution in relation to the NHTL had been interrogated. The Indaba had also looked at the resolution of challenges around cultural practices that violated the legislative rights of individuals and communities in a democracy and republican system. Lastly the strengthening of the role of traditional leaders in the area of radical economic development and land matters was considered. The resolutions were still being finalised and only the declaration would be presented to the Committee.
The Committee wanted to know who would be the title holder of land transferred by government, as the declaration spoke to transfer of titles, and asked whether the Department of Traditional Affairs (DTA) supported the declaration of intent and resolutions by the NHTL.
Discussion and adoption: Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Amendment Bill [B8-2017]
The Chairperson said that the amendments were for a secondary Bill.
Mr K Mileham (DA) said that procedurally the Committee were to discuss amendments of a bill without an amended draft before it. How was the Committee expected to decide on a Bill without a C version?
The Chairperson said normally the Committee proposed amendments first which would then be inserted into a bill so that an amended draft would come before it with new amendments highlighted.
Mr Mileham asked if the Committee would have to sit again in future to approve another C version.
The Chairperson replied in the affirmative.
Mr Mileham said he thought the bill had to be approved by Parliament before August 2017. At the rate the process was proceeding, that would not happen. He questioned why the Committee was even bothering with the process.
The Chairperson replied that as per the Committee’s programme, it had to process the bill. Whatever came after was for others to bother with. The amendments were few, and that would not take more than an hour, including the report on the bill.
Mr E Mthethwa (ANC) said that as far as he was concerned, the Committee was supposed to just adopt the amendments as they had already been discussed previously. The postponement of adoption had been delayed by the Committee when it discovered there had been a new clause which had not been there initially.
He moved for the adoption of the amendments.
Ms B Maluleke (ANC) seconded the adoption of the amendments.
Mr Mileham interjected on a point of order that the Committee could not adopt the bill, as there was no revised draft version of it in the Committee’s possession.
Mr A Masondo (DA) said it seemed that Mr Mileham was questioning the very process of deliberating on a bill. His proposal was that the Committee get legal opinion on the processing of a bill.
The Chairperson said the rules of Parliament were clear -- that once a Committee had agreed on bill amendments, departments would insert the amendments in the original bill and that draft would return to the Committee for a final check. What had already taken place was correct because the list of amendments would be inserted into the amendment bill which would return to the Committee for finalisation. Possibly Parliament would not be able to finalise the Bill before August. However, the Committee could reconvene on Thursday 22 June in the morning to finalise the amended bill, as there were few amendments that had been made anyway. The report on the amendments therefore had been accepted, as it had been moved and seconded as captured above, but the amendments would then be considered at a later stage.
Mr Mileham said the DA objected to clauses 1(b), (c), and the entire clause 2 of the proposed amendments of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Amendment Bill on the grounds that the amendments had not gone through a proper public participation procedure; and that the amendments were new and from the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL), which had changed fundamentally what had been put out for public participation. Secondly the amendment Bill sought to take away the rights of traditional communities and to give them to traditional councils.
The Chairperson said the public hearings for the bill had been advertised. Furthermore, the fact that the NHTL were organised did not mean they were not part of the public. Other civil society organisations had also participated.
Mr Mileham said his concern was that the NHTL had presented its amendments after the public participation window had closed for everyone. Therefore other sectors of society, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had not had an opportunity to give input on the new amendments, and on that basis the DA was objecting.
Mr D Matsepe (DA) said that it was unfair for the Committee to support the NHTL against citizens who had said during the hearings that the 40/60 issue, as in the proposed clause 2 (a) (ii), was deplorable. The Committee had agreed with the communities, but the Chairperson had backtracked the previous week by allowing two traditional leaders to prevail over the concerns of the majority of the public. Most unfortunate was that political consideration was being allowed.
Mr Masondo pleaded that the Committee should proceed with its work, as there had been ample time given and the Committee could not repeatedly do the same work.
Mr Mthethwa agreed with Mr Masondo that indeed the work had been completed with disagreements previously. Apart from the new amendments, there had been agreement that the Committee would adopt the report the following week.
The Chairperson said the amendment Bill was part of the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill which would be considered by the Committee later in the year, and that Bill, if passed, would repeal the current amendment.
Mr Mileham interjected that what happened in the future was for that time, but the Committee was amending the current legislation. The DA had been explaining why it was objecting to parts of the amendments before the Committee. Mr Matsepe had proposed a month ago that the 40/60 ratio be swapped around, which amendment had not been considered by the Committee, yet the NHTL could propose amendments which were being accepted without question. That 40% be appointed and 60% were to be democratically elected members of the traditional council had never been put before the Committee, though Mr Matsepe had proposed such.
The Chairperson said that the matter would be considered as it was valid. However, as there was an existing bill which would deal with the matter, the primary Act could not be tampered with too much. The Committee would be continuing on to the next agenda item.
Briefing on the disaster situation in Western Cape
Deputy Minister’s remarks
Mr Obed Bapela, Deputy Minister, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), said the disaster had started as rain storms. The western part of the Western Cape (WC) had experienced rain, but the eastern side of the WC had experienced gale force winds which had fanned widespread fires. He had visited the affected areas, together with the Minister Des van Rooyen and the Premier of the WC, Ms Helen Zille The devastation was quite immense, and he and Minister van Rooyen were to still visit affected areas in the Eastern Cape (EC), where the fires had spread. He was grateful for the work the fire-fighters had done in trying to manage the fires and preserve life.
Update on Western Cape disasters in the
Ms Ané Bruwer, Acting Deputy Director-General (Head): National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) said she would do a summary overview, but the WC Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) head would present in-depth on the disaster. She then took the Committee through the presentation.
She said as per the mandate of the NDMC it had been participating heavily in the coordination of the management of the disasters. The preliminary assessments for damage and losses had not included private sector losses, which would be dealt with by insurance companies. As the assessments were preliminary, final assessments were still to come though, the number currently sat at R285 950 000 worth of damage to public infrastructure.
Mr Colin Deiner, WC Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) head, said the South African Weather Service (SAWS) had informed the PDMC on 5 June that the weather phenomenon approaching the WC had not been seen in more than 30 years. A wind system of about 50 knots was about 100km/h, and that was normal for summer winds in the WC, but those normally lasted for two to three hours and moved on, enabling people to repair. However; the expected winds were forecast to last for 36 hrs, which meant substantial damage had to be expected.
The fact that people had to commute to schools was more of a concern than the school structures themselves. Secondly, if disaster services had to respond to different areas of the city and the province it would make it easier to respond if there was not the congestion accompanying schools transport. That made a big difference in disaster management getting to all the incidents as they were occurring.
Mr Deiner said the joint operational Committee spent a lot of time in planning, as the WC was a disaster-prone province and that to date, they were dealing with more than seven declared disasters. The disaster management mostly found uprooted trees, removed roofs and closed streets as well.
He said the Eden District normally had wild fires from the beginning of December to the end of March the following year. In that period, the PDMC had had to respond to 17 000 fires and had carried out 2 000 air operations. The increase in the fires was because of fanning by the gale force winds.
He acknowledged the firefighters from Cape Nature and those from Working on Fire, which had activated its firefighters from as far as Mpumalanga (MP) and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) to assist. Notably the PDMC had a good relationship with Working on Fire, as it usually worked with the company during the southern Cape fire seasons.
By 8 June, two fire fighters -- Mr Bradley Richards and Mr Ian Bernard -- had been injured in a fire, with Mr Richards receiving 70% burns and Mr Bernard receiving 50% burns. Unfortunately, Mr Richards had succumbed to his wounds on 9 June.
PDMC humanitarian relief had been in excess of 250 tonnes of aid, and PDMC had considered and actually moved some of that aid to Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay in Cape Town, and Malmesbury, as their need seemed to be greater. PDMC would also be flying over the Knysna area to assess the ground density, as the area was quite prone to landslides and since there was little ground cover remaining after the fires, there remained real risks.
Deputy Minister Bapela acknowledged the Department of Tourism, as Minister Tokozile Xasa had visited Knysna, which was a tourism destinationAn estimated 2 000 jobs had been lost as a result of the disaster in the Eden District, especially because of the infrastructure damage.
He said the coordination in managing the disaster by the PDMC could be used as a lesson by other municipalities and provinces about investing in a state of readiness. A bigger debate which SA had to have, was the state of readiness psychologically -- about when warnings were announced and how people responded to warnings. Additionally, basic survival skills like swimming in communities had to be looked into, so when disasters like floods hit the country people could help each other even before emergency services could be dispatched. He also thanked the Gift of the Givers for the work they had done in the Western Cape disasters so far.
Mr Mileham commended all those that had been involved in managing the impact of the disaster. He then asked what the current status of the flare ups was. What was the status of the investigation into the causes of the fire? What had been done to pre-position resources ahead of the fire disaster -- in particular, the air support from the South African National Defence Force -- and how long did it take to get that support? The presentation had not mentioned anything about the fires spreading to Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan (NMBM) -- was the NDMC not involved there?
Mr Mthethwa asked how many schools had been affected in the Eden District, and what had been done with learners from affected schools. How many factories had been burned down in that district, and did the job losses alluded to include those from burned down factories?
Mr Masondo asked what interventions had been put in place for those whose informal houses had been burned down.
Mr Deiner replied that there were areas were flare ups occurred, but during demobilisation of the operation the PDMC was quite satisfied that where flare ups were occurring, there were no significant threats. Certainly flare ups would continue and the PDMC still had some helicopters on standby, but the operation was expensive. Most of the resources had been moved to the EC and some of the SANDF resources had been moved to Cape Town, and not back to SANDF. The response time would be two hours if anything major were to happen; but because Eden District was fire prone, there were the standard resources there on standby.
In terms of pre-positioning of resources, the PDMC worked with the ‘working on fire’ aerial support programme. The aircraft were in the WC in the summer season and moved to other provinces in winter, as the fire season would have subsided in the WC. The WC government spent about R10 million a year in contracting the aircraft from ‘working on fire’ in addition to a national sponsorship.
The PDMC had not expected to receive a fire of the magnitude eventually seen, because reports had been that there would be a lot of rain and wind, though SAWS had eventually said there had been a lot less rain than expected. There had been no expectation that the severe weather would cause a fire as well.
The PDMC had received a lot of assistance from Gauteng and other provinces, and factually there were enough fire-fighters, but the conditions of the fire dictated how one deployed resources.
The fire in the EC was separate from the Eden fire, which had been contained such that it never blew over to other provinces. The PDMC had assisted the EC through a multi-agency joint command, however.
The latest tally was that 170 schools had been affected by the wind, but most of them had not had to be closed. Only those affected by the fire had to be closed.
There had been no significant damage to industry as far as he was aware, apart from the hotel that had burnt down. There had been job losses there and there would be job losses in the agricultural sector as well. The WC provincial government was looking at what was called a “build back better” programme to ensure that what was put back into the area would be more resilient. There had been no significant informal settlement damage, and about 30 people were still to be assisted in the area.
Ms Bruwer said that there was an investigation into the causes of the fire by the WC government, supported by the South African Police Services (SAPS), but it was ongoing.
On the pre-positioning of aerial resources, the NDMC had a system in place through the National Joint Operations and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) to the NDMCs, so that when messages were received, the SANDF and aerial resources would be on standby. This meant the NDMC would receive a request from a PDMC, and based on that information resources would be put on standby so that when an event occurred, deployment could be quick. That had happened in the WC satisfactorily, to the extent that when fires had started up in the Nelson Mandela Bay area, the NDMC had requested extensions to keep the aerial support through NATJOINTS, and had redeployed some of the resources to the EC.
The NDMCs were meeting at the NDMC headquarters that day to see what additional support could be given to informal settlements dwellers through the provincial and local government structures. The Department of Human Settlements (DHS) did have an emergency housing programme with which it was exploring how to fast track its response in that regard.
There was a team looking into the fire in the EC, which had mostly affected plantation areas, but it had been brought under control. Of course there had been flare ups, but the Sara Baartman Municipality was still experiencing water and electricity challenges. A team from COGTA had been on the ground there for two days to see how that municipality could be assisted with restoring services.
Mr Mileham said that he had previously found whilst visiting a disaster area at the Kouga Municipality, that the NDMC had been unwilling to release resources unless there had been a guarantee of payment from either that local municipality or its own PDMC. Had that been resolved? Surely resources had to be moved first so that payment could be worried about after a disaster had been mitigated? What was the extent of the NDMC relationship with SANDF in the use of extensive SANDF resources in times of disasters?
The Daily Dispatch newspaper in East London had published an article that the King Sabatha Dalindyebo Municipality in the EC had no fire equipment and trucks. The Buffalo City Municipality also had no operational fire engines. How did the NDMC assist municipalities in providing equipment that matched a common standard and how did it ensure that those worked when disaster struck?
iNkosi R Cebekhulu (IFP) said the disaster-stricken community had complained about prime land, where they could have been housed, being declared a heritage site by national government. What was the status of that process?
The Deputy Minister replied that school children from informal settlements had been affected, as uniforms had been burnt, together with their books. The engagement with schools had been for those learners to be allowed to attend without uniform while relief was still awaited. The schools had agreed and even provided books, but that work was still ongoing.
The current National Disaster Management Bill was bringing amendments to the Act, as it was not as emphatic on the minimum standards of equipment municipalities and provinces had to have for emergencies. The amendments were still at Cabinet level. That would certainly improve the minimum standards of equipment and systems for dealing with disasters, as he had learnt in the conferences he had attended that SA was quite weak in its state of readiness for disasters. The Minister would be engaging all provincial Members of the Executive Council (MECs) on the lessons from the PDMC and the Knysna municipality on the coordination, management and mitigation of the impact of the disaster across the public sectors, with an audit of the state of readiness and how they funded disaster management.
There were quite a few settlements that needed to be revisited by government as a whole, because he had also seen and heard on the news about heritage site declarations. Low lying areas were under threat due to the effects of global warming, particularly the eastern part of the country, including KZN and the EC, with SAWS predicting that flooding would continue being severe in the next ten to 20 years. For example, the town of uMzimkhulu in KZN was being relocated higher up the slopes, next to the Mzimkhulu River, so that whatever eventually happened, the river would not affect the residents as much. In Rustenburg, a river had burst its banks where COGTA had started work to relocate the affected settlement higher up the slope.
Ms Bruwer said that the NMDC had close working relations both with SAPS and the SANDF, as they met in NATJOINTS weekly. Additionally, the security services participated in NDMC’s national advisory forum which was across provinces. That made activation easy, as the disaster management legislation provided for that as well. Regarding the matter of payment, the NDMC had an agreement with SANDF that no payment would be involved. Mr Mileham had possibly been referring to an issue with ‘working on fire’ resources, which were private and required payment. In the WC there were service level agreements (SLAs) with ‘working on fire,’ and Mr Deiner had mentioned the amounts the PDMC set aside for aerial support annually. Provinces and municipalities were expected to have similar SLAs with private resources in place, but from a national perspective the NDMC worked with public resources, including thr SANDF.
Regarding support to local municipalities, the NDMC had only two people working on such support as there were two disaster laws -- the Disaster Management Act (DMA) and the Fire Brigade Services Act (FBSA). In 2016, Parliament had dealt with disaster management amendments and the white paper on fire services had gone to Cabinet, as Deputy Minister Bapela had already alluded to. Currently the NDMC was doing capacity assessments of municipalities to identify needs and to look at ways of how and what support had to be provided. The NDMC did not have the budget to employ resources, but whatever gaps it identified were presented to municipalities in reports on how to strengthen capacity. There were programmes where the NDMC partnered with the private sector, such as the Business Adopt a Municipality Programme, where resources were activated to support local municipalities without capacity.
The Chairperson asked where the National Disaster Management Bill process was, and whether there was a second amendment, as the Committee had amended it in 2016.
Mr Mileham asked if the NDMC could be requested to present a consolidated capacity assessment report to the Committee in future, so that the Committee could know the state of readiness in dealing with disasters, especially those that were fire related.
Ms Bruwer said the amendments had been finalised, and there was a Disaster Management amendments Act. Only the fire brigade legislation was being reviewed to date.
The Chairperson thanked the NDMC and WC PDMC delegation for coming to the Committee for the briefing.
Statement of Intent: Adopted declaration of the Indigenous and Traditional Leadership Indaba
The Chairperson said the presentation of the declaration was not for the Committee to discuss, but was merely an update as the Committee had left the Indaba early. The Committee would deliberate on the document as it was finalising the Khoisan and Traditional Leadership bill.
The Deputy Minister said the core mandate of the Indaba was to explore issues that always surfaced in every debate when traditional leaders engaged the President of the Republic during the opening of the NHTL -- from Presidents Mandela and Mbeki, to date with President Zuma. COGTA had therefore decided to engage the NHTL.
He said that issues of policy, constitutionality and the harmonisation of relationships between the NHTL, government, communities and other sectors of society, and the promotion of nation building and social cohesion in the context of ‘ubuntu,’ had been discussed. What had been interrogated was whether there was common understanding of Chapter 12 of the constitution in relation to the NHTL. The Indaba had also looked at the resolution of challenges around cultural practices that violated the legislative rights of individuals and communities in a democracy and republican system. Lastly, the strengthening of the role of traditional leaders in the context of radical economic development and land matters had been considered.
He said that the resolutions were still being finalised, and only the declaration would be presented to the Committee. Unfortunately, of the four political parties invited and had confirmed attendance, only two had eventually participated in the Indaba.
Mr Abram Sithole, Chief Executive Officer, NHTL, read the declaration with the Committee.
Deputy Minister Bapela said the resolutions probably would go up to 50 pages, as the declaration was simply a summary.
The Chairperson said he hoped that the preparation and presentation of the resolutions would not take two years.
Mr Matsepe asked who would be the title holder of transferred land by government, as the declaration spoke to transfer of titles.
Mr Mileham asked if the Department of Traditional Affairs (DTA) supported the declaration of intent and resolutions by the NHTL. That the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA) had to be suspended was contrary to law, as both Parliament and the NHTL had bought into the passing of that law in 2013.
Deputy Minister Bapela said currently the land had been held by government in trust since the 1913 Land Act from tribal authorities, then to the current system of traditional councils. The NHTL was asking why the government had not given the land to traditional authorities, and not a particular traditional leader. Traditional authorities were composed of the 60: 40 ratio split which had been referred to earlier, though it would still be debated in 2017 regarding how the structure would be constituted. As land was a national competency; even if it was to be transferred, there had to be conditions attached.
Responding to Mr Mileham’s question, he said there would still be consultations between government and the NHTL on the resolutions, together with engagements with political parties and traditional communities debating the resolutions as well. With the title deeds going to the traditional authority, the security of tenure which was currently absent in the transfer set-up had to be included going forward, so that citizens living on traditional or communal land could also enjoy security of tenure.
The dispute with SPLUMA had always been there, but as the submission had been made post proclamation, the President of the Republic had established an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) which would be meeting with a steering Committee of the NHTL to explore the issues the NHTL had been raising, but which had been ignored. The suspension of SPLUMA had been a settlement offer after the NHTL had expressed distrust of government, where government had said that the suspension would be effected only in the communal land space and not everywhere. The NHTL lament was that their functions and powers had been diminished by municipalities just grabbing land. He did not know whether that would work legally or not, but the NHTL had said if there was no amicable outcome of the matter it would call for a repeal of the entire SPLUMA. However; the Deputy Minister did not think that stage would be reached, because the traditional leadership of Limpopo had already produced a law based on SPLUMA, indicating satisfaction with the law.
The Chairperson said that the question had been whether the DTA agreed with the resolution and declaration.
Mr Bapela replied that the document belonged to the NHTL, and DTA had given support to the resolutions as intent, but as there would be ensuing engagements, there could be issues of commonality and agreement but there could be disagreements as well.
The Chairperson said the Committee would debate the resolutions as soon as they were submitted to the Committee and would prefer to receive those before end of July so that the report and resolutions could form part of the debate on the Khoisan and Traditional Leadership Bill.
The meeting was adjourned.