In this virtual meeting, the Committee was briefed by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) and the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) CoGTA on the government’s response to the recent flood disaster in KZN, North West (NW) and the Eastern Cape (EC).
The Minister in the Presidency informed Members that the damage to infrastructure and loss of lives during the floods exposed the government’s lack of capacity in several areas. With this in mind, the government has embarked on a three-phased approach to its response and recovery efforts, under which all interventions are to be coordinated, these are (in order): humanitarian relief; stabilisation and recovery; reconstruction and rebuilding. To ensure the swift recovery of the EC and KZN more particularly, these interventions will be implemented concurrently.
Minister Gungubele confirmed that provincial departments will have to reprioritise their budgets to respond to the disaster in both EC and KZN. He further clarified that the R1 billion announced by the President forms part of the government’s contingency fund, which can only be accessed once the province’s infrastructure department’s funds have run out. Whilst some Members were pleased with this announcement, others were disappointed, indicating that the reprioritisation of the budgets will have a significant impact on frontline services, such as health and education.
The Committee heard that the DPME was requested by the Cabinet to provide support in relation to integrated planning, monitoring and evaluation (M&E); and to integrate the disaster response within the planning and monitoring frameworks. To deal with the gaps in the plans of departments involved in the intervention, the DPME has tabled a matrix system framework (MSF). Minister Gungubele indicated that once DPME and CoGTA have fully populated the interventions into the MSF, the DPME, it will be better able to provide greater detail on the timeframes of the implementation of each intervention.
The Minister of the CoGTA, Ms Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, highlighted that her department and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) were currently working on identifying land suitable for the resettlement of affected persons who are currently being housed in temporary shelters. The government has also advised those whose homes were washed away or damaged, against resettling in the affected areas, as most of them are situated on floodplains and are thus unsuitable for settlement.
Members asked about the differing data on fatalities and missing persons.
They advised that government ensure that there is quality assurance in the restoration of infrastructure in the affected areas, to prevent this disaster from reoccurring – particularly in the face of climate change.
A request was made to have clear targets that are measurable and simplified so that government is better able to communicate progress with the affected communities.
Concern was expressed that communities have been left frustrated by the government’s slow implementation. An appeal was made for the government to translate its plans into practical implementation
The Co-Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Cedric Frolick, indicated that the presentations had assisted the Committee with understanding the government’s structured approach to providing relief and reconstructing KZN. Moreover, the details contained in each presentation would assist in its preparation for its scheduled oversight visits in all three provinces in the next two weeks, starting with KZN on Friday 27 May.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi indicated that the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and the Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) would brief the Committee on the government’s recovery plans for KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), following the devastating floods in the province. This, he added, would better equip the Committee to do its work efficiently and effectively during its planned oversight visit from Friday until Sunday.
Mr Mondli Gungubele, Minister in the Presidency, mentioned that the DPME would provide an overview of the progress regarding its monitoring of the implementation of government interventions. He admitted that the government had not been adequately prepared for the floods, as such, it has had to try to fast-track its readiness. Presently, the department is working with all three provincial governments, particularly the Premier of KZN, Mr Sihle Zikalala. Following the presentation, the department looked to obtain input from the Committee on how to better improve its work.
DPME overview of government’s response to the recent flood disaster
Mr Godfrey Mashamba, DDG: Evidence and Knowledge Systems, and Dr Annette Griessel, DDG: Planning Coordination, briefed the Committee on the government's response to the recent flood disaster.
Mr Mashamba indicated that from 8-13 April 2022, KZN experienced prolonged heavy rainfall, with between 200 and 400 millimetres in a space of 24 hours on 11 and 12 April. This resulted in a flooding disaster in most areas around KZN and some areas in the Eastern Cape (EC). Following the President’s address on 18 April, the COGTA Minister declared a National State of Disaster (NSD), which conferred the responsibility for coordination and management of the disaster to the National Executive. The DPME was requested to provide support in relation to integrated M&E, and to integrate the disaster response within the planning and monitoring frameworks.
He then highlighted key causal factors (areas of concern), some of which were:
- The location of informal settlements and buildings within flood-prone areas, such as flood plains
- The poor construction of infrastructure, including corruption during construction and maintenance
- The poor maintenance of infrastructure, including roads, bridges and stormwater sewers
- The slow pace of implementing the upgrading informal settlements programme
He indicated that the President, in his address, announced that there will be a three-phased approach to government’s response and recovery under which all interventions are to be coordinated, these are (in order): humanitarian relief; stabilisation and recovery; reconstruction and rebuilding. Some of the key interventions aligned to this phased approach include:
- The provision of R1 billion emergency relief funding to the KZN provincial government
- The deployment of 10 000 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF)
- Temporary shelters for affected persons
- Urgent repairs to damaged roads and bridges
- Search and rescue of missing persons
Dr Griessel mentioned that the DPME forms part of the Oversight Committee on the National State of Disaster (OCNSD) on the impact of severe weather events. The OCNSD was established to create transparency and accountability regarding the emergency funds allocated for the disaster so that the funds are utilised for the intended purposes. Significant additional funding will first have to through an adjustments budget process before being made available for the interventions. However, existing disaster management grants will be provided for relief.
She said the department noted key planning issues, which include a lack of targets, indicators and timeframes in departmental plans; and that interdependencies between departments are managed on an ad-hoc basis. To deal with both issues, the DPME has developed a planning template and will be working with departments to populate it. In addition, the DPME will explore the possibilities of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between departments, to manage the interdependencies.
Co-Chairperson Frolick opened the floor for discussion.
Mr T Brauteseth (DA, KZN) asked if the 8 areas of concern raised by the DPME in the presentation are assumptions made by the department or if they were observations and findings obtained from the ground. If they had been observations, he asked for a breakdown of each one. This, he mentioned, would aid the Committee in its efforts to assist affected municipalities improve their systems, to prevent or mitigate such a disaster going forward. Additionally, he asked if the 8 concerns were reactive findings or if they had been identified through engagements with municipalities over a period of time, where the department informed them it has picked up on their poor maintenance of infrastructure.
He also asked if the department could provide the names and contact details of the individuals part of its organogram, so that Members of Parliament based in KZN are able to work with them, to try and resolve the current issues.
Ms H Mkhaliphi (EFF) asked for the timeframes on the department’s plan to conduct M&E system checks on temporary shelters. She felt that the department had already completed its analysis but had not yet made an intervention.
As there was a difference in the data illustrated in the CoGTA and the DPME’s presentations regarding the number of missing persons and the number of fatalities recorded in the floods – with the DPME recording 54 people missing and 443 fatalities, whereas the CoGTA recording 88 people missing and 448 fatalities – she asked for clarity on which set of numbers the Committee should accept as a true reflection.
Referring to the failure to fix the Ntuzuma Bridge in KZN following the President’s visit, she asked how the department has assisted in the coordination of government’s implementation of its interventions. In addition, she asked for details on what the government has done thus far.
Regarding the Deputy Minister in the Presidency’s planned visit to the NW, she was concerned that she may be chased away by residents, as officials from the Department of Health (DoH) were alleged to have been, during a visit to KZN. She asked if the DPME’s officials were also part of the team chased away by residents.
Ms V Mente (EFF) raised her concern regarding the lack of coordination between government departments.
Referring to the key interventions that will take place in phases, she asked what phase the government is currently in; what has been done thus far; what has been assessed; what has been the progress; and what will constitute phase 2.
Ms D Direko (ANC) posed several questions. One, she asked what mechanism the Office of the Presidency (Office) has in place to prevent the illicit use of the allocated relief funds.
Two, she asked what the government’s plan is to resolve the poor spatial planning and lack of sectoral plans within municipalities.
Three, she asked what government's strategy is going forward, to ensure that it is better prepared for such a disaster.
Four, she asked if the Office has ensured that all procurement related to relief and recovery in KZN will be conducted in accordance with the law. Further, she asked if it has put measures to guarantee that all officials comply with the rules and regulations.
Five, she asked if there are measures put in place to make certain that the residents in the affected areas are regularly updated on the progress of the interventions, and which officials they should contact for assistance.
Minister Gungubele indicated that the department has noted the lack of capacity in government’s planning and readiness capabilities, which have led to the inadequate response to the flood disasters. However, the department was pleased by the interventions made by the provincial government and the national CoGTA.
Mr Mashamba, referring to the difference in data on fatalities and persons missing, mentioned that the data presented was obtained from the last update the department had received. This discrepancy, he explained, is due to the lag in the information provided to the department. He advised that the Committee utilise the latest data provided by the provincial COGTAs and national CoGTA.
He was unaware of the allegations regarding officials from the DoH being chased away by residents and whether officials from the DPME formed part of this delegation. He said that the department would follow-up on both and report back to the Committee.
Explaining the phases, he stated that they are meant to describe the packaging of the interventions and are planned to be implemented at the same time. Phase 1, he said, deals with humanitarian assistance to those affected, for example, temporary residential units (TRU) are to be provided. Whilst this occurs, affected residents will also be provided support to rebuild their homes.
He indicated that the government is currently working on plans to ensure the rebuilding of the Ntuzuma Bridge.
Dr Griessel, touching on the analysis of causal factors, mentioned that this is a high-level analysis of the factors, drawing from discussions, as well as the existing challenges identified by the DPME and others, over time. Both the National Infrastructure Plan and Infrastructure South Africa will be used to respond to the inadequate maintenance of infrastructure and poor infrastructure planning.
Regarding spatial planning, she said that the Spatial Planning Land Use Management Act is the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD). The National Spatial Development Framework has been approved by the department. In some instances, spatial plans do exist, however, the adherence to them is inadequate. She added that there have been concerns regarding the uncontrolled settlement of people in areas not deemed fit for human habitation across the country.
She explained that there are various strategies and documents released by the government regarding climate change. Further, DPME has been engaging with the Presidential Climate Commission, to look into how to improve the integration of the proposed responses and interventions in the short, medium and long-term, within the planning system.
Mr Mashamba, on the DPME’s role in countering the risk of corruption, said that an Oversight Committee has been established and will be led by the Director-General (DG) in the Presidency. This Committee, he added, will be supported by the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA), which has been tasked with actively auditing the use of the relief funds.
Various departments are reprioritising their budgets, to assist with the disaster response. He requested that the Committee refer to the CoGTA presentation, which may show which of the funds have been applied for disaster relief and National Treasury.
Minister Gungubele asked that the officials speak on the matrix system framework (MSF) the department has tabled before CoGTA.
Mr Mashamba, referred the Committee to slide 26, which illustrates the results chain, starting with input – which speaks to the contribution put in place to manage the disaster – and the outputs. While slide 27 illustrates the phases of the government’s implementation of its interventions.
Explaining the MSF, he stated that it has formed part of the discussions between the CoGTA and the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), on how various interventions can be implemented. More details on the indicators of the progress recorded in phases one and two would be provided in the later presentations.
Minister Gungubele mentioned that the department has introduced a MSF and once it has completed its work with CoGTA to fully populate the interventions, it will be able to provide greater detail on the timeframes of the implementation of each intervention.
He indicated that the Cabinet does not dispute the lack of capacity in the government. Many of the challenges faced by the government were illustrated during the flood disaster. However, he asserted that the government has been working on its proactive and reactive mechanisms, to ensure that it is better prepared for the future.
On the phases, he underlined that both phases 2 and 3 focus on government finding suitable land to settle displaced residents. Both phases will take a longer time to implement.
Regarding the difference in data on fatalities and missing persons, he highlighted that the numbers are consistently updated as the department receives new reports. He recommended that the Committee relies on the figures provided by the CoGTA.
Touching on the Oversight Committee, he explained that it brings together the Presidency, the AGSA, National Treasury and certain civic organisations. The AGSA, he added, will monitor the government’s transactions, to ensure that the regulations are being followed.
Ms Mkhaliphi asked if the department could answer her question on whether its officials formed part of the DoH delegation that was chased away in KZN.
Minister Gungubele said that the department would verify the information and return to the Committee with a response.
Mr M Mashego (ANC) found the Presidency’s decision to present on behalf of all the departments involved in the intervention, to be unusual, particularly as the Committee has to refer to the Presidency when it takes issue with the presentations of other departments.
He recommended that the government should begin implementing its interventions. Following this, he asked that the department provide the Committee with the MSF.
He asked what the government’s predetermined objectives were to provide relief and reconstruct the EC, KZN and NW. This, he said, will assist the Committee in tracking the progress of the implementation or lack of.
Co-Chairperson Frolick highlighted that the department will provide the line functions as the intervention unfolds.
Ms M Lesoma (ANC) indicated that the presentation provided her with comfort that the government is alive to the State of Disaster it finds itself in.
She advised that government ensure that there is quality assurance in the restoration of infrastructure in the affected areas, to prevent this disaster from reoccurring – particularly in the face of climate change. In addition, she recommended that the Presidency advise the departments to make certain that people are moved to areas suitable for settlement. Furthermore, she said that this moment presented an opportunity for the government to revisit its spatial planning policy and its communication with communities on land identified for resettlement.
She asked if the department believed that the District Development Model (DDM) was working. She felt that the DDM would assist to improve coordination between the three spheres of government.
She requested that the MSF have clear targets and be measurable and simplified so that the government is better able to communicate progress with the affected communities.
Mr M Hlengwa (IFP) said that the government needs to translate its plans to practical implementation. He requested that the Minister ensure that the interventions are implemented, especially as the turnaround time seems to be slow. The communities, he added, have been left frustrated by the government’s slow implementation.
He highlighted that the N2 Northbound between Ilfracombe and Umgababa remains closed, even though the Department of Transport (DoT) had assured residents that it would re-open last Sunday.
He asked if the relief funds have been made to the KZN provincial government and the affected municipalities. If not, why not. If it had been, he asked how much had been allocated thus far.
Mr C Dodovu (ANC, North West) mentioned that the presentation illustrated the work done by the government so far and how it will monitor the implementation of its interventions.
Touching on the budget readjustments, he indicated that the presentation had not made it clear whether the municipalities would need to readjust and retable their budgets. He highlighted the importance of them doing so, particularly the metros, as this will ensure that the affected areas receive the required support.
Referring to the coordination, he asked what coordination the government has had with other stakeholders such as non-governmental organisations and churches, among others. He said that if it did not collaborate with them, implementation would be slowed.
Mr D Macpherson (DA) indicated that while it was true to an extent that the government was not ready, the disaster illustrated the collapse of local government, particularly within the Ethekwini Metropolitan Municipality (EMM): which was mainly due to the accumulation of years of corruption and mismanagement, instead of investments into infrastructure. He hoped that this would be a catalyst for the government to attend to the disintegration of local government.
He indicated that there is a disconnect between the department’s assumptions and the realities on the ground, as there is no management and coordination at the moment. For example, the EMM Executive Committee was unaware of who is managing the disaster centre in the city and who it should speak to in the provincial government, regarding the disaster relief funds. To him, it seemed that certain information provided to the national government by the lower spheres is not true and is provided only to appease it. He encouraged the department to get as many differing views, so as to ascertain the truth on what is taking place on the ground.
He asked when did the period of one phase begin and end. For instance, under the phases, how long would the 40 000 people that have been placed in community halls be expected to stay. Additionally, he asked where councillors can access all the information related to disaster management.
Regarding the budgeting, he stated that the money allocated for relief and reconstruction will mainly be obtained from the reprioritisation of budgets. As such, no new money would be made available to the province. This, he felt, will have a significant impact on frontline services, such as health and education. Following this, he asked what the purpose of a NSD is, especially if it does not contain reserve funding for emergency scenarios. Additionally, he asked how much money is currently in the contingency reserves and why it had not been made available to the KZN province.
He warned the department that a lack of progress would lead to greater restlessness amongst those affected.
Minister Gungubele mentioned that it is a challenge for the government to obtain the correct facts when dealing with such issues.
He said that the Cabinet has accepted that there is a shortage of capacity in the government, hence the interventions are also aimed at correcting this. While there are a series of interventions taking place, the DPME is concerned with the population of the MSF, as this will illustrate the measurement of the government's progress in implementing its interventions and also allow for it to escalate its response. For instance, 1800 TRUs are supposed to have been in place already but the government has not even reached 200, however, once the MSF is populated, it will be able to escalate its response through improved coordination between the CoGTA, the provincial government and affected municipalities.
Regarding the reserve funds, he said that the Minister of Finance (MoF) indicated that the Treasury has a contingency of R1 billion for immediate intervention. These funds will be mainly used for phase one of the intervention. Presently, the government is calculating how much will be required for the implementation phases 2 and 3 of the intervention.
He highlighted that the department was invited by the Committee to explain how it has been assisting the government in streamlining the issues and ensuring the M&E of planning occurs. He assured Members that the department will make sure that it succeeds in the population of the MSF, so that it is better able to report on macro and minor issues.
The quality assurance of build infrastructure will be included in the evaluation column of the MSF. The department will work together with the line functioning institutions, some of which have significant engineering skills.
Touching on the spatial matter, he said the department was informed by officials from Transnet Port Terminals that informal settlements are encroaching rail lines, which is placing the rail infrastructure in danger.
He agreed that thorough communication by the government – through the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) – will be important in informing communities of the progress of its interventions. In addition, he encouraged residents and the South African Police Services (SAPS) to work together in the search for missing people.
Referring to the DDM, he mentioned that the disaster has demonstrated the significance and the urgent need for the government to implement the model. The department believed that had the model been in place prior, the effects of the disaster would not have been as severe.
He assured Members that the department would follow-up on the opening of the N2 Northbound between Ilfracombe and Umgababa.
He agreed that the government needs to begin implementing its plans.
He indicated that government is working with the civic organisations that are part of the Oversight Committee.
Co-Chairperson Frolick said the Committee is aware of its duty to exercise oversight over the matter. He was pleased by the department’s presentation, as he felt that it assisted the Committee with understanding the government’s structured approach to providing relief and reconstructing KZN. He requested that the department provide the Committee with a detailed written response on the 8 areas of concern, as well as additional information on the MSF.
He indicated that on Wednesday the Committee would be briefed by the MoF and AGSA on the budget reprioritisations, the mechanisms in place to safeguard procurement – and the expenses related to it.
He underlined the importance of the Committee’s visit to KZN on Friday, as it will be able to gain an understanding of the challenges faced by the communities, as well as ensure that the government is doing as it claims.
The meeting was adjourned until 12:30.
Co-Chairperson Frolick indicated that the Committee would be briefed by the KZN Provincial CoGTA and the National CoGTA on the government’s response to the recent flood disaster.
The Minister of the CoGTA, Ms Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, indicated that the department would brief the Committee on the disaster floods that occurred in April and those that occurred over the past weekend.
Briefing by the DCoGTA on government’s response to the recent flood disaster
Mr Jurgens Dyssel, Senior Manager: Legislation, Policy and Compliance Management, National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), briefed the Committee on the government’s response to the national disaster that affected KZN, NW and EC.
He informed the Committee of the impact and effects of the floods in all three provinces, beginning with KZN, where 8584 houses were totally destroyed, 13 536 homes were damaged, 448 fatalities were reported and 88 people reported missing. In the EC 2306 houses were destroyed, 1857 homes were damaged, 7 fatalities were reported and one person was reported missing. In the NW, 75% of the Deelpan village was submerged, 45 houses were totally destroyed, 224 homes were damaged and 0 fatalities were reported.
In the aftermath of the disasters, the government, with the assistance of donations, provided immediate humanitarian relief, which included placing 7700 affected persons in 76 temporary shelters, the provision of water tankers as well as food and blankets, among other things. The Department of Transport (DoT), through the recently established sector Rapid Response Team, has appointed the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) to serve as the lead agency in providing engineering capacity for the reconstruction of roads and bridges in KZN and the EC. He added that the DoT estimates that the total amount required for reconstructing damaged infrastructure in KZN is R5.6 billion and R1.9 billion in the EC.
As part of its infrastructure intervention in KZN, government is identifying vacant land suitable for residential purposes, to accommodate those displaced by the floods. In its assessment with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), CoGTA identified 18 damaged bridges that need to be repaired and reconstructed in KZN. Whereas the EC Provincial CoGTA identified 17 damaged bridges affected by the floods.
CoGTA took note of the progress made by the multi-sectoral interventions to deal with immediate humanitarian relief.
Briefing by the KZN Provincial COGTA on its response to the recent flood disaster
Mr Dyssel briefed the Committee on the KZN provincial government’s response to the recent flood disaster.
He indicated that the provincial government, with the assistance of certain national departments, has been implementing the government’s three-phased approach to interventions in the province. Thus far, the provincial government has managed to place more than 7000 affected persons in temporary shelters around the province. City engineers in the EMM are currently working on repairing road infrastructure that was damaged in the flood. Municipalities and sector departments have submitted applications to the NDMC, through the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC), to process their funding applications.
The department estimates that the damage costs amount to R25 billion but with the reprioritisation of funds, allocation of national disaster grants and other donations, the provincial government hopes to reconstruct and recover infrastructure damaged in the province.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi opened the floor for discussion.
Mr Brauteseth said that he was pleased by the swift communication by the government of the South African Weather Services (SAWS) alert level 10 warning prior to the floods this past weekend, however, he was concerned that a similar warning was not issued on time on 11 April (which resulted in 443 deaths). He asked if the department could provide details on whether the early warning alerts were communicated to communities during the April floods.
He asked if the department could assist in ensuring that all roads damaged during the floods are included in SANRAL’s list of roads to be fixed.
Mr Macpherson asked how much money is currently in the Disaster Management Fund (DMF) and how much of the allocated appropriations from the fund have been returned by National Treasury in the last two years. In addition, he asked what the short, medium and long-term measures for the fund and its funding are.
He highlighted that only national and provincial officials are involved in the PDMC and not councillors. Further, not much information is known by those in the affected communities. As such, he asked what the involvement of local ward councillors is in the PDMC and how they can access information on what is taking place. This, he added, would allow them to keep affected communities informed on the progress of the government’s interventions and assist in easing their frustrations.
He asked if the CoGTA has engaged with the KZN provincial government on its R300 million contingency fund, as there have been no pronouncements on why the money is not being used.
He raised his concern regarding what he believed was a disconnect between what the CoGTA is being told and what is actually happening on the ground. The presentation referred to a Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG) amounting to R733 million that will be advanced as a transfer (for relief), however, during a committee meeting two weeks back, the Department of Human Settlements (DoHS) indicated that National Treasury said the money would not be available until financial audits are signed off after September. This, he highlighted, would mean that 73% of the R1 billion relief funds would not be available immediately. Consequently, he asked where the department had obtained the information on the transfer.
Mr F Du Toit (FF+, Free State) asked if there was a vetting process that preceded the allocation of tenders. If so, he asked that the department provide the details of that information. The Committee, he underlined, has to prevent the corruption related to the procurement of Covid-19 Personal Protective Equipment.
Ms Lesoma asked if Mr Vincent Ngubane was still the head of the EMM Municipal Disaster Management Centre (MDMC), as it has been alleged that the Municipal Manager could not identify who headed the centre.
She recommended that the CoGTA advise the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and the EMM to implement a plan that will guarantee that all JoJo tanks placed at schools and other affected areas are filled with water. She asked if the department could find out where the municipalities source the water used to fill up the tanks. In addition, she asked if there have been efforts to ensure that the quality of the water is fit for consumption. If not, she asked whether communities have been informed about this and what measures they should take to improve the quality, such as boiling the water.
During an oversight visit in Tongaat, the town’s unit indicated that it would fix the bridge between Tongaat and Hambanathi, however, she did not see this on either of the presentations. As such, she asked for an update on the progress of this development.
The approved business plans of national and provincial departments, as well as municipalities, did not include the reprioritisation of budgets for the disaster response. Consequently, she asked if the departments, provinces and municipalities have followed the due processes when reviewing their plans to include an allocation for disaster response.
She suggested that government should improve and simplify its communication with affected communities, to prevent frustration from growing.
Ms B Mbinqo-Gigaba (ANC) thanked the CoGTA for the work it has done thus far.
She asked if school transport arrangements have been made for children moved into community halls. If not, she asked how the children have been travelling to school. She advised that government look into providing the children with psycho-social support, as many of them have experienced trauma from the flood disaster.
Regarding stakeholder support, she asked if the donations provided to government for relief in KZN are monitored by CoGTA. Additionally, she asked if they will be accounted for.
She was surprised that 48 people are still missing following the floods.
Mr V Zungula (ATM) said that it is important for the government to have a two-pronged approach when dealing with the disaster, which includes dealing with the immediate issues, and two, taking proactive measures to better prepare for future floods.
He then asked a series of questions. One, he asked how far government is in the geological rezoning of the country, which will ensure that all flood plains are declared unfit for residential and business purposes. Two, he asked how involved the Council for GeoScience (CGS) was in the rebuilding and reconstruction of affected areas in the province. Three, he asked if the department will assist in moving people to live in newly identified areas.
Four, he asked what is currently being done to assist people who move from one unsafe area to another.
Five, he asked if the government has collaborated with churches to provide assistance to those affected.
Minister Dlamini-Zuma indicated that she would have to leave the sitting at 15:00, as she had to attend another meeting.
Regarding the quality of water supplied, she mentioned that the water is sourced from the surrounding dams in the area. As this water is treated, its quality is suitable for consumption.
She informed the Committee that the department is looking to work with the DPWI and the CGS in identifying pieces of land suitable for residential purposes. If the department had additional funds, it would also begin moving those who currently live in unsafe areas but have not been affected by the floods, to areas with better living conditions. The government, she added, has advised those whose homes were washed away or damaged to not resettle in those areas.
Ms Mkhaliphi mentioned that the government’s lack of capacity was highlighted and acknowledged earlier in the meeting by the Minister in the Presidency. She felt that if the government failed to implement its interventions, the citizens would not take Parliament seriously, as it is tasked with holding the Executive accountable.
Subsequently, she asked how the department coordinates its work with the affected municipalities, the provincial government and the other departments involved in the interventions; and how it ensures that the relevant department does conduct its monitoring duties. Furthermore, she asked what the government’s time frame is for implementing its phased interventions.
She was concerned that the KZN provincial CoGTA had not responded to her email, which contained the concerns of 300 families that were affected by the floods. The department’s lack of response, she added, would increase the people’s frustration with the government.
She also indicated that CoGTA had not responded to her regarding the funerals of the Buthelezi family, who passed away during the floods.
She suggested that the DWS be called to account for the deteriorating state of the EMM’s water infrastructure.
Mr L Mangcu (ANC) advised the department that in future it should provide the Committee with up-to-date information on the disaster.
He asked why the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was not involved in the reconstruction of the province’s bridges, especially as it has significant engineering skills.
Noting National Treasury’s (NT) temporary ban on tenders, he asked that the Committee be assured of whether the exemptions have been provided to the municipalities and provinces that are tendering.
As the presentation mentioned that funds will be secured by 13 May 2022, to start work on the 18 bridges that have been affected by the floods on 1 June 2022, he asked if the department has received the funds. In addition, he asked what measures have been put in place to ensure that the work starts by 1 June.
He asked why the department had not referred to the damage to Passenger Rail of South Africa (PRASA) infrastructure. Further, he asked what the department’s role is in repairing the infrastructure.
He asked why there is a backlog in SAPS laboratories and the impact this has on the postmortem results. Further, he asked what can be done to alleviate this issue.
He recommended that the affected municipalities work on unblocking their stormwater drainages, as their blockage is one of the major causes of the floods.
Ms Mente said she would not engage the presentation as it contained outdated information. She proposed that after its oversight visit, the Committee would call the department to provide it with a full update on the work done thus far.
She requested that in its list of roads to be reconstructed, the EC Provincial CoGTA also include roads within rural communities, as there has been no word on this.
She asked if there has been any movement regarding the funding for road infrastructure and transport as a whole.
Minister Dlamini-Zuma said that NT will respond to all fund-related questions.
She agreed that municipalities should look into unclogging the stormwater drainage systems.
She felt that it was unfair to criticise CoGTA for not attending, individually, to each of the issues faced by the affected families, particularly as it is a small department with little resources. The department’s role, she added, is to assist in the coordination of the government’s intervention, and it has to rely on the information provided to it.
Referring to SANDF’s role, she stated that it has been mandated by the DPWI to build 14 Bailey bridges in KZN. The suggestion to include them in the reconstruction of bridges in the province would be considered by the department.
On the exemptions, she said that following its tender ban, the NT indicated that departments must request exemptions for tender procurement in general and not only for disasters.
Regarding the Buthelezi family matter, she mentioned that it would be absurd for anyone to expect the national CoGTA to organise the funerals of the family members. The funerals were conducted by the provincial government.
She requested that the KZN CoGTA answer the question regarding the list of 300 affected families.
Ms Avril Williamson, DG, CoGTA, indicated that R570 million is currently available in the DMF, although this is not enough to address the damage in the province.
Ms Ulrike Britton, Chief Director: Urban Development Infrastructure, NT, mentioned that the department would establish whether the roads reconstruction project list published by the Department of Transport (DoT) and SANRAL is a complete one. Furthermore, the department will also look to understand how both institutions interface with provinces and municipalities, in ensuring that the updated list of damaged roads is complete.
Regarding Disaster Management Act (DMA) funding and grants, she explained that the department has immediate relief and response grants, which are governed by the Division of Revenue Act. These grants can be dispersed once a disaster has been classified. They are dispersed either through the Emergency Immediate Relief Funds (following a CoGTA Vote) or the Housing Emergency Grant (HEG) on Human Settlements vote – which is activated through a declaration of a housing emergency and at the request of the transferring offices, the funds will be released. Another mechanism available in the fund is the contingency reserve, which the department will only have access to once the 2022 adjusted appropriation is activated. No funds related to disaster management are kept.
Continuing on the funding and grants, she added that during the 2021/2022 financial year, the DoHS spent 40% of the provincial emergency housing grant. This amount, she highlighted, had not yet been audited. Whereas in the same period, CoGTA moved funds from the provincial disaster response grant to the municipal disaster relief grant in the last financial year, 70% of which was spent. During its briefing on Wednesday, NT is expected to present its multi-year analysis of the spending of grants.
On the contingency fund at the provincial level, she indicated that this R300 million is subject to the relevant budget legislation being passed, which the department is awaiting.
Explaining the procurement vetting, she said that the department issued a NT instruction for Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) institutions to report weekly on procurement. This is to understand how accounting officers adjudicate and issue tenders. The department, she added, is currently setting up a system, so that the reports can be published on the Office of the Chief Procurement (OCPO) website, as was done with the Covid-19 grants.
Referring to procurement and exemptions, she indicated that NT had issued a new instruction at the end of March, with effect from 1 April 2022, that the emergency procurement exemptions and deviations will be the responsibility of accounting officers in departments and municipalities. Thus, no approval from NT will be required, however, the accounting officers/authorities will need to report to the CoGTA, regarding disaster-related procurement.
On PRASA, she mentioned that the CoGTA is currently in discussions with the DoT on how the reconstruction of the country’s railways will be funded within the various earmarked allocations for PRASA. As PRASA is a serial underspender of its capital budget, both the CoGTA and the DoT are looking at the mechanisms available in the entity’s R2.9 billion to restore railway services. CoGTA, she added, does expect NT to send the DoT a letter regarding this matter, soon.
Regarding the reconstruction of roads, she explained that the CoGTA has had similar issues with the DoT. Even though this has been declared as a national disaster, the intergovernmental framework on the powers and functions of provinces and municipalities to deliver services still remains meaning that the national government cannot take over the responsibility of road procurement. The initial intention was for SANRAL to manage the entire process, however, this has changed, with the provincial government now appointing the entity as an implementing agent, while the funding streams will still go through the current mechanisms. Presently the DoT and the CoGTA are in discussions to clarify this matter.
Furthermore, she said that the NT is currently awaiting a request from the DoT, in terms of section 19(1) and section 19(6) of the Division of Revenue Act, so that it can grant the approvals to ensure that the funds go through the correct mechanisms available.
Mr Andile Fani, Head of the EC CoGTA, stated that the EC provincial CoGTA consolidated and provided the DoT with a list of all the roads damaged during the flood disaster in the EC and it is currently expecting a report back from the department. He added that the DoT indicated that it will look into the costs of the reconstruction.
Mr Dyssel, referring to the alert warnings, mentioned that the first early warning was issued on 7 April and then on 11 April it was upgraded to level 5 for certain inland areas in KZN and level 8 for the coastal areas (this level was subsequently upgraded to level 9). He explained that there are two key components of early warning response. One, is to ensure the early warning goes out into the various channels as soon as the information is available and that it reaches as many people as possible. The second component, which is difficult to control, is how people react to the early warning. Presently the department is trying to understand why people had not reacted timeously during the first flood disaster.
In the second event, the department had a better understanding of what was going on, and public awareness also helped to improve the response. He added that through awareness programmes and improvement in capacity, responses to such warnings will be enhanced.
Regarding the involvement of local government, he highlighted that municipalities are afforded the opportunity to present their reports on a daily basis to the provincial Joint Operational Coordinating Committee (JOCOM). After which, they are informed on how to improve their responses and better coordinate them.
Ms Britton mentioned that NT regulations govern the donations received. As such, any accounting officer from the relevant department can accept donations, whether in cash or kind. Donations in cash are deposited in the relevant revenue fund and only an act of parliament can withdraw funds from this. Whereas donations in kind, will be recorded in the financials of the department, for accounting purposes. International donations from international development partners are transferred into the Reconstruction Development Programme (RDP) fund. She added that the international partners set rules around the donations, as well as their intended use.
On the R733 million, she said that the DoHS transferred R733 million of the Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG) to KZN in April and as of Friday, a further R183 million to the province. In addition, R105 million of the same grant was transferred to the EC provincial government in April and R180 million in May. R189 million, related to the informal settlements partnership updating grant was transferred to KZN in April, and R52 million in May.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi said that the presentations would assist the Committee with its preparations for the oversight visit on Friday.
He explained that the Committee would visit KZN from May 27-30 EC from June 3-5 and NW from June 10-12.
Mr Brauteseth said the department had not answered his question on whether the early warning systems were communicated to communities during the April floods. He requested that it provide a report on the actions implemented by the EMM when it initially received the weather report and when this was rapidly escalated to level 9.
Ms Mkhaliphi requested the department respond, in writing, to her question regarding the list she sent, which contained the concerns of 300 affected families.
Mr Macpherson said it was unacceptable that the department had not addressed his question, regarding the DoHS’ remarks that the R733 million HSDG will only be available in September after the financial audits have been completed. He was concerned by this, as the grant makes up 73% of the R1 billion assigned for disaster relief. He recommended that CoGTA engage the DoHS on this information and return to the Committee.
Ms Mente said that the Committee should create a slot during the oversight visit to meet with the CoGTA, as many of the questions had not been addressed.
She asked that the list the EC provincial CoGTA spoke of be made available to the Committee. In addition, she requested that the department also illustrate which areas are included in the list of roads that will be prioritised for reconstruction.
Mr Thando Tubane, Accounting Officer, KZN CoGTA, confirmed that Mr Ngubane remains the head of the DMC in EMM.
Regarding the JoJo tanks, he stated that the KZN CoGTA was aware of instances during the Lockdown where tanks in the schools had not been filled to capacity. However, this was speedily dealt with by the KZN Department of Education.
Touching on the learners affected by the floods, he said that the KZN CoGTA developed an action plan for learners currently housed in private shelters, which allocated them to schools closer to their shelters and provided them with learning materials, as well as food.
He indicated that the provincial government does participate in private initiatives aimed at rebuilding the province.
Referring to the 48 missing people, he explained that rescue teams, which included SAPS, searched for flood victims in KZN, the Western Cape and the Free State. The searches are still ongoing, and the provincial department has requested the assistance of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
He assured Members that he would engage with other officials in the department on why the department had not attended to the list containing the concerns of 300 affected families in the province.
On the geographic rezoning, he mentioned that the provincial department has started discussions on this issue, as people cannot continue to build homes in the plains.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi said that the Committee will be able to get a clearer picture during the oversight visit.
Mr Brauteseth asked what areas the Committee will focus on during the visit.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi said that the Members will be responsible for organising the programme for their oversight visits.
Ms Lesoma suggested that prior to the oversight visit, the Committee should draft a programme, which will identify the regions and municipalities it will be visiting.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi said this will be attended to after the meeting.
He thanked the officials for their input. The Committee, he added, would have further engagements with the department on Wednesday afternoon.
The meeting was adjourned.
Frolick, Mr CT
Nyambi, Mr AJ
Bara, Mr M R
Bebee, Ms LC
Brauteseth, Mr TJ
Direko, Ms DR
Dlamini-Zuma, Dr N
Dodovu, Mr TSC
Du Toit, Mr SF
Gungubele, Mr M
Hlengwa, Mr M
Hoosen, Mr MH
Lesoma, Ms RMM
Macpherson, Mr DW
Mangcu, Mr LN
Mashego Mr MR
Mbinqo-Gigaba, Ms BP
Rayi, Mr M
Shaikh, Ms S
Zandamela, Mr S
Zungula, Mr V
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