Election of Co-Chairpersons

Ad Hoc Joint Committee on Flood Disaster Relief and Recovery

13 May 2022
Chairperson: Mr C Frolick (ANC) and Mr J Nyambi (ANC, Mpumalanga)
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Meeting Summary


The Ad hoc Joint Committee on Flood Disaster Relief and Recovery met on a virtual platform for the first meeting of the Committee to nominate and elect Co-Chairpersons.

Members nominated and elected Messrs C Frolick and J Nyambi unopposed as Co-Chairpersons.

The newly elected Chairpersons invited Committee Members to make some introductory remarks. Seven made remarks and highlighted the importance and urgency of the work of the Committee.

Co-Chairperson Frolick outlined the Committee would need to report to the Houses by the end of November. It was envisaged the Committee would begin its work next week already. A Committee programme will be developed, together with the identification of the key government departments as well as the provincial and local governments affected. Physical visits to affected areas might not take place immediately because Members needed to familiarise themselves with the issues first, receive the necessary briefings, and then go on oversight visits afterwards. The draft Committee programme will be available for distribution and further comment next Monday.

Meeting report

Nomination and Election of Co-Chairpersons

Adv Mongana Tau, Committee Services Unit Manager, Parliament, welcomed everyone to the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee, in which Members would elect the Co-Chairpersons. He handed over to the Committee Secretary to chair the meeting until the Co-Chairpersons were elected.

Mr Pilate Gwebu, Committee Secretary, noted the meeting was quorate and invited nominations for Co-Chairpersons from Members.

Ms M Lesoma (ANC) nominated Mr Frolick and Mr Nyambi.

Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) seconded the nominations.

There were no further nominations.

Both accepted their nominations.

Mr Gwebu declared Mr Frolick and Mr Nyambi as the duly elected Co-Chairpersons of the Committee.

Co-Chairperson Nyambi said it was indeed a humbling experience to be afforded the responsibility. He invited Adv Tau to deal with the matter of Committee support staff.

Housekeeping Matters

Adv Tau said two Secretaries were seconded to the Committee, namely: Mr Pilate Gwebu and Ms Nola Matinise. The Committee will also have two Content Advisors, and Ms Andiswa Cele as the Committee Assistant. Executive Secretaries were not made available as Committee Services believed the Co-Chairpersons had adequate existing capacity within their offices, but additional capacity could be provided should there be a need. Also, Content Advisors supporting various cluster committees, namely: Basic and Higher Education, Water and Sanitation, Transport, Human Settlements and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs would also assist the Committee as and when required.

Co-Chairperson Frolick also thanked Members for bestowing him the responsibility. He looked forward to working with the rest of the Members and believed the Committee will be supported by professional support staff who were up to the task. As the processes unfold, the Committee would assess whether there will be a need for an additional support staff complement to assist Members. He invited comments and input from Members.

Members’ Input

Mr D Macpherson (DA) welcomed the establishment of the Committee and the eventual election of the Co-Chairpersons. He was keen to hit the ground running and hoped this was an opportunity to put party politics aside and have the best interests of those residents deeply affected by the tragic floods in KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape to a lesser extent, foremost. He also hoped the Co-Chairpersons would take the mandate bestowed on the Committee by Parliament seriously- to hold government departments to account, together with those responsible for delivering relief and reconstruction. The DA would certainly play its part in conjunction with all the other political parties represented in the Committee. He looked forward to commencing the work as quickly as possible.

Ms Lesoma congratulated the Co-Chairpersons on their election. She believed they will rise to the occasion in leading the Committee and navigating the difficult task as a collective. She implored Members to endeavour to put party politics aside and deal with the urgent recovery task at hand. Some affected communities were getting slightly despondent given the desperate situation they found themselves in. She hoped the Committee, during the course of its work, would not necessarily confine itself to the KwaZulu-Natal floods, but go beyond this and look into climate change and its effects, and then make necessary suggestions to the Executive. Lastly, the Committee should ensure whatever commitments made with the different stakeholders should be met and that accountability is prioritised, which would see people’s confidence in government and parliamentary processes restored.

Mr V Zungula (ATM) wished the newly elected Chairpersons well. What would be of importance is that as Members put their political differences aside, the responsibility of providing proper oversight and due diligence should not be neglected. One of the foremost concerns within communities currently is the lack of public trust in government and Parliament. Therefore, Members should ensure that they carry out the work of the Committee and that much needed relief is provided to communities. He echoed Ms Lesoma’s sentiments that the Committee should not confine itself only to KwaZulu-Natal and pointed out that flooding was a regular occurrence in other parts of the country as well, particularly in mining areas.

Mr M Hlengwa (IFP) congratulated the Chairpersons on their election and hoped that under their leadership, the Committee would be able to rise to the occasion of fulfilling its mandate and bridging the trust deficit, which primarily was the reason why this Committee was established. Public confidence was really on the decline given the non-adherence to public finance management prescripts by some public officials. The Committee would therefore need to exert the authority of Parliament to the full extent to ensure those tasked with the responsibilities related to disaster relief actually perform their jobs. The Committee’s work was cut out as the situation on the ground is urgent and dire. Members would need to have their boots on the ground to get a first-hand experience and appreciation of people’s needs, particularly for those Members that have not been in some of the affected parts. He agreed with Ms Lesoma’s suggestion that the Committee must also be able to look at the impact of climate change amongst others and the spatial planning realities prevailing on the ground, in an effort to avert future disasters. He expressed confidence the establishment of the Committee was an honest effort by Parliament and a step in the right direction insofar as strengthening oversight and parliamentary functions was concerned.  

Mr H Hoosen (DA) also welcomed the election of the Co-Chairpersons. The work of the Committee would mean Members should exercise oversight over all measures announced by the President, departments and entities as part of the disaster recovery efforts. In order for this work to be done properly, the Committee should get some clarity on where the R1 billion relief fund announced by the President would come from. He understood some of it was grant funding from National Treasury, and some of it was reprioritised expenditure. At some point, the Committee should get a breakdown of how the funds were put together so as to direct Members’ focus on those specific areas of funding. In carrying out its work, the Committee must be mindful of the fact that so many people had lost their lives in the devastating floods. Many families were affected and their situation was desperate.

Ms V Mente (EFF) emphasised the need for Members to direct their collective efforts towards ensuring the work of the Committee is discharged successfully. For the Committee to succeed and do the best for the affected communities, Members should endeavour to find each other at all times in spite of their differences.

Mr T Brauteseth (DA, KwaZulu-Natal) agreed the Committee should find consensus on matters as far as possible. He noted media reports that the recovery would cost about R1 billion. However, the reality was that recovery across the board would probably cost around R17 billion. There has been confusion about where that money would come from, and the first indication was that it was to come from provincial governments, but KZN indicated it has no money when this was raised during an NCOP plenary. Also, the Deputy President said the previous day that the shortfall will be covered by the national government. Therefore, the Committee’s programme of work needed to cover receiving clarity on where the additional funding was going to be sourced. The reality was all the good intentions would amount to nothing if funding for the recovery efforts was inadequate. There was a need for firm commitments on the part of the Cabinet in this regard. Secondly, there was need to, as soon as possible, engage with executive committees in the affected municipalities so as to get a sense of the work done to date and going forward.

Co-Chairperson Nyambi expressed his commitment to ensuring that the Committee meets its objectives within a reasonable period. As Members discharge their mandate, they should be mindful of the impact of their work on ordinary people on the ground and the expectations and challenges they were confronting on a daily basis. By design, the Ad Hoc Committee was established to deal with a specific task which must be completed within a given timeframe before it reports to both Houses. This would only be possible if all stakeholders commit to the cause and are part of the programme to be adopted by the Committee in due course.

Co-Chairperson Frolick thanked members for their comments and reminded them that the Ad Hoc Committee has a specific task; unlike the work of portfolio committees which encapsulates various matters. The Committee would need to report to the Houses by the end of November. It was envisaged the Committee would begin its work next week already. A Committee programme will be developed, together with the identification of the key government departments as well as the provincial and local governments affected. Also, civil society organisations that have played a role will be invited to participate in Committee processes. He envisaged physical visits to affected areas will not take place immediately because Members needed to familiarise themselves with the issues first, receive the necessary briefings, and then go on oversight visits afterwards. The draft Committee programme will be available for distribution and further comment next Monday.

Mr Macpherson differed with the Committee approach as outlined by Co-Chairperson Frolick. It was crucial that the Committee goes to KwaZulu-Natal next week. The pressing issues must not be discussed 1600km away- Members must be on the ground and formulating the programme on the ground before holding further deliberations. Engaging stakeholders first before undertaking oversight visits later might not be the correct approach as the situation was getting worse in many areas. It has been a month since the floods and some funds have been spent already, rightly or wrongly. Money was flowing through the system already.

Ms Lesoma suggested the Committee hold off discussions on the approach to be taken until a draft roadmap and programme are formulated by the Co-Chairpersons with the help of Committee Staff. She however believed the Committee should first do some preliminary work before going for oversight visits.

Co-Chairperson Frolick noted the views expressed by Members and added the oversight visits to affected provinces, particularly KwaZulu-Natal, will be done in a coordinated manner. He gave assurances there will be no delays and that the timelines will take into account the serious nature of the disaster in the affected communities.

He thanked everyone in attendance and closed the meeting.


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