Video (Part 1)
Video (Part 2)
In a hybrid virtual/actual meeting, the Ad Hoc Joint Committee on Flood Disaster Relief and Recovery received presentations detailing the recovery efforts made by the Departments of Social Development, Transport, Small Business Development and Public Enterprises within the Eastern Cape, the North West province and KwaZulu-Natal, which had fallen victim to the disastrous April floods.
The Department of Social Development (DSD) acknowledged the need to improve its disaster planning. The Minister stressed that South Africa needed to increase investment in defence and disaster planning to " protect our people, natural resources and our economy.” An estimated 9 520 social relief distress vouchers valued at R1 980 were distributed at a cost of R16.5 million. To date, 28% of flood victims had left shelters over the past few months. Donations from foreign countries were being coordinated with the Departments of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA).
Members stressed that the Department needed to be more specific. Where were these shelters? How many people were there? They wanted to know whether the temporary residential units (TRUs) were only in eThekwini, or whether they could be found in other districts. The rollout of the TRUs had to be expedited. The Committee felt that a deeper assessment of how people had been affected by the floods needed to be explored. 2 000 unemployed social workers in Kwa-Zulu Natal could be utilised, and the DSD had suggested that survivors of the floods needed counselling. Members wanted to know whether any cases of gender-based violence (GBV) had been reported from the shelters. The Committee requested a consolidated report on all donor funds from foreign countries, the private sector and non-governmental organisations.
The Department of Transport (DoT) said that repairing damaged roads was being prioritised and accelerated. Following the assessments by the provinces and other spheres of government, the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) put together a professional team to conduct further assessments in the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal. The Committee stressed that the Department needed to provide a report focused on the Eastern Cape and North West provinces. Concern was expressed at the lack of detail concerning North West compared to the more detailed Kwa-Zulu Natal breakdown.
Members wanted to know whether the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) had contingency funds to be used when confronted by damage to the roads. What was the current rate of rebuilding roads and railway networks? Had the Department proposed to National Treasury for virements to assist with the flood disaster? It seemed as though major roads were being prioritised, and rural roads neglected. What was needed as an intervention for the damage to be speedily dealt with? The Department should provide the Committee with the average standard cost of resurfacing and rebuilding different types of roads.
The Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) said it had engaged with officials in the affected provinces and small businesses to provide relief to formal and informal enterprises. The Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) fell under the Department. It had decided to work through SEDA to offer support because of its wide reach.
Members wanted to know what criteria were used to select grant relief beneficiaries in the informal business sector. Did the Department oversee and monitor this grant? Members were not happy with the timeframe for the applications, stating that they lacked urgency. Others wanted to know whether the application dates could be extended. The Committee stressed that collaboration was particularly important to secure additional funding. The Department claimed it had received 457 applications, but Members were concerned that this represented only a small quantity compared to the scale of the damage caused by the floods in eThekwini.
The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE), with contributions from Transnet and Eskom, briefed the Committee on the recovery of the Transnet infrastructure from the impact of the floods. The Minister said that the impact of the economic loss on each department and the various facilities in Kwa-Zulu Natal needed to be evaluated. Insight from the business constituency would contribute to ensuring businesses continue operating.
Members wanted to know whether the DPE had analysed the net economic loss on the roads, rails and ports of affected provinces. Was the Department considering mitigation strategies? Were there plans in place to protect replaced cable lines from vandalism? The Committee welcomed the report that Transnet had entered into an agreement with the eThekwini Metro municipality for the upkeep of the Montclaire Lodge in Yellowwood Park, which housed survivors of the floods. However, there were concerns about the first right of refusal being given to the municipality for the sale of the property. What rights would the occupants who occupied these Transnet buildings have?
The Premier of the Eastern Cape said the various remarks made by the Department of Social Development and the Department of Transport truly reflected the experience of the Eastern Cape. Interventions from the DSBD were encouraged, because they could be used to tackle socio-economic issues within the Eastern Cape.
The Chairpersons said the Committee would be briefed by the Departments of Social Development(DSD), Transport (DoT), Small Business Development (DSBD) and Public Enterprises (DPE). This would be a two-part session -- one in the morning, and another after lunch into the evening. The Ministers and Deputy Ministers would be given the opportunity to make opening and closing remarks during their respective department’s presentations. Members were urged to physically avail themselves for meetings instead of joining virtually. Those who joined virtually would, however, be accommodated today. Co-chairperson Nyambi urged Members to refrain from “picking and choosing” when and where they wanted to participate in person. It seemed as though Members were taking advantage of the virtual option of attending meetings.
Mr L Mangcu (ANC) said that an observation needed to be made on the issue of duplicated presentations from the same department. Previously Members had received presentations “well in advance” and were able to familiarise themselves with the content. This formality no longer persisted. This issue needed to be raised with the co-Chairpersons. The presentation from the DPE was received “maybe” yesterday. Members received an inaccessible presentation from the DoT “last night”. The DSD had not sent Members any presentations for prior viewing. This was not appropriate, and needed to be registered.
The Premier of the Eastern Cape, together with the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), were present and following the proceedings. The Premier was given an opportunity to address the Committee since he had previously missed this opportunity due to health reasons.
The Committee expressed condolences to the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Lydia Sindisiwe Chikunga, on her bereavement.
Tomorrow the Committee would receive a briefing from the Minister of Finance and the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, as well as the Minister of COGTA.
Department of Social Development
Ms Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Social Development, joined the meeting virtually.
Chairperson Nyambi asked the Minister and the acting Director-General, Mr Linton Mchunu, to take the Committee through the presentation from the DSD. The Committee had visited the three provinces - the Eastern Cape, North West and Kwa-Zulu Natal - affected by the disaster floods. Through the oversight visit, the Committee could assess the work done by the DSD. This meeting would allow the Department to elaborate on its work from the commencement of the floods to the current day. The Chairperson handed over to the Minister.
Minister Zulu said the Department had recently visited KwaZulu-Natal to celebrate the month of August – Women’s Month. Whilst being there, it had visited shelters. It was concerned about the relocation of people from out of the shelters. A report would be presented to the Committee detailing everything. The Department would update the Committee on the reconstruction and recovery efforts it had made within the Eastern Cape, North West and KwaZulu-Natal. These three provinces had been affected by the disaster floods experienced between April and May. KwaZulu-Natal had suffered the brunt of the disaster floods. Lives were tragically lost and many were displaced. Thousands of homes had been destroyed, along with the infrastructure. People were living in harsh conditions, and some missing individuals remained unaccounted for.
This disaster flood prompted President Ramaphosa to declare a National State of Disaster on 18 April. The DSD worked with the provincial government and other stakeholders, such as local organisations, to ensure a coordinated, timely and effective recovery in the immediate, medium and long term. The Department acknowledged that it needed to improve its future disaster planning, considering climate change and the inevitability of disasters. The general infrastructure posed to be a problem. For example, in KwaZulu-Natal, it was noted that communities had built homes without any sort of planning or following safety precautions. This was a long term problem which needed to be fixed. All stakeholders needed to be involved in dealing with the impact of the disaster because it was not “one-sided” but involved government, the private sector and civil society. This was also an opportunity to practically assess communities to understand and plan for future challenges. Educating one another about these challenges was important and learning from other countries. A coordinated effort needed to be explored, particularly coordinated efforts by national, provincial and local governments. These spheres of government needed to proactively plan for the future, instead of being reactive.
Recovery in the social environment encompassed, among other things, the provision of food and nutrition, psychosocial support and referral services to ensure the wellbeing of members of the community, both individually and collectively. Men, women and children were not being separated, but remained in one hall, and children were left without any recreational means such as toys to keep them preoccupied. The Department was capable of providing holistic solutions. Innovation, creativity and a speedy response were demanded from the Department.
The Minister had had the opportunity to meet the communities of Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape and some communities in KwaZulu-Natal that had been affected by the floods. Social services were at the forefront supporting and providing relief to communities affected by the disaster. They would continue to fulfil this duty in the recovery phase. The recovery phase suffered from “donor fatigue”. Initially, many had volunteered to assist, but this assistance had been short term. Currently, only the three spheres of government are assisting affected communities. The Department of Social Development had pleaded with stakeholders and volunteers not to abandon it. Long term commitment was needed, and the participation of non-profit organisations (NPOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the private sector were encouraged.
The disaster floods were extreme and overwhelming. This indicated weather patterns becoming more extreme and persistent over time because of the climate change crisis. Society had entered into an unprecedented and devastating period. South Africa’s experience formed part of the global effects of climate change. Climate change was wreaking havoc globally on vulnerable communities and environments. Although the Department presently focused on reconstruction and recovery, there were concerns about individuals and families, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, who still needed assistance.
As of 8 August, 61 shelters were still operational. This meant that the disaster floods significantly impacted individuals and families who, after four months, continued to live in temporary shelters. This reality had depleted the resources for disaster relief by the provincial social development departments. Food remained a priority for those still in the shelters, particularly in eThekwini. The people affected were in low spirits because it felt like their lives were in limbo.
The Minister asserted that she was not “one to moan and groan,” but would take action. The Department was always the first on the scene during disasters and pressured other relevant departments - like the Department of Human Settlements - to get involved. Government needed to work urgently to secure the temporary resettlement of people, although the permanent resettlement of individuals and families was preferred.
The disaster floods were inevitable but manageable. South Africa could and should have prepared better for the disaster. The report and recommendations made by the Department today would help improve government's preparedness, coordination and response to future natural disasters. South Africa needed to increase investment in defence and disaster planning to " protect our people, natural resources and our economy.” Investing in defence and disaster management would benefit and reduce damage, ensuring a quick recovery.
There may be duplication with the monitoring and evaluation team of the Department, should they be called to present. The team was unique, and their individual findings and evaluations would be different from the current presentation.
DSD's flood relief efforts
Mr Linton Mchunu, acting Director-General (DG), DSD, said the mandate of the Department of Social Development was to ensure protection against vulnerability by providing a comprehensive social development service and to promote the wellbeing of all peoples. It aimed to provide immediate social relief through grants, food and essentials, psychosocial support, and protection of vulnerable groups and shelters. The North West and Eastern Cape shelters had been decamped, and affected people were now re-integrated into society. In KwaZulu-Natal, the focused districts had been eThekwini, Ugu, KwaDukuza and Msunduzi.
In April, 8 400 people were recorded in the shelters. On 15 July, this figure had dropped to 6 011 people. It was estimated that 28% of people had left the shelters over the past few months. To date, 826 temporary residential units (TRUs) had been completed and 760 were occupied. There were major risks caused by rising social ills involving the state of the shelters, crime, gender-based violence (GBV), Covid-19, rape and teenage pregnancy, amongst other things.
The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) interventions were implemented in KwaZulu-Natal. To date, 9 520 social relief distress vouchers worth R1 980 per person had been distributed, to the tune of R16.5 million. Hot meals were being provided to 4 045 people. Furthermore, 898 blankets, 888 mattresses and 676 dignity packs were given to people housed in shelters. Overall, 72 shelters were serviced at a cost of about R8.4 million. Burial support was provided to 325 families who could not afford it. There were 1 231 school uniforms provided, costing R3.2 million.
The Department had worked with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and COGTA to coordinate donations from foreign countries.
Mr Mnchunu listed the challenges faced by the DSD:
- Uncertainty with the length of stay of people in the shelters;
- Slow pace of TRU delivery;
- Identification system within the shelters;
- Shelters posing threats -- GBV, teenage pregnancy, rape, transmission of COVID-19 and other social ills;
- Rebuilding within the context of socio-economic development for economic wellbeing and sustainability; and
- Readiness for pre- and post-disaster management, and the effects of climate change.
He said the following interventions were required:
- Speed up the integrated approach by relevant departments, including the DHS, to indicate timelines of closure of shelters;
- Speed up the integrated approach and interventions by relevant departments and local government;
- Deploy a credible system of tracking shelter residents to monitor the inflows into and out of shelters;
- Provide a different approach to placing people in shelters in a much more humane manner;
- Preferential targeting and continued support for livelihoods, support for the creation of an abundance of jobs, and development of people (skills, entrepreneurship) etc;
- Enhance coordination internally among all sectors of society and looking at country best practices.
(See presentation for details)
Mr Mchunu concluded by stating that he was with the team from SASSA and the National Development Agency (NDA). These entities and the Department would be available to take questions.
Chairperson Nyambi confirmed that the Committee had observed most of the issues raised during their oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal. The DSD played a key role in addressing “the plight of the people.” The disaster floods had been a critical challenge that needed to be dealt with in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, following the 2021 July unrest.
Chairperson Frolick opened the floor for Members to ask questions. He wished all the women a happy Women’s Month before commencing.
Ms B Mbinqo-Gigaba (ANC) was concerned about the mandate of the ad hoc Committee. The Minister and Director-General kept referring to the work done in the Northern Cape. Money from the government was being spent in the Northern Cape concerning the floods, yet the Committee claimed this was not part of its mandate. This needed to be revised. The Committee had a duty to perform oversight, particularly where money from government was being spent. This was being raised as a concern.
The presentation highlighted that a lot of work still needed to be done, even four months after the disaster floods. The Committee appreciated what the government had done thus far. The people living in the shelters/halls were the main concern. The presentation mentioned that hot meals were being prepared. Who prepared these hot meals? When were these meals given? Was this process being monitored, and by whom? People had alleged that they did not even have water. Covid-19 remained a cause for concern. Men, women and children were sleeping in the same spaces. Within these spaces were children who had been orphaned by the floods, and were thus vulnerable to sexual abuse. The presentation mentioned that there were children who had been raped. Children needed to be assisted in getting out of these spaces. They would continue to be raped if left unassisted. “People are vulnerable, people are stressed, some of them would see sex as what they can do to take the stress out of themselves.”
There had been mention of 826 TRUs. Were these TRUs only in eThekwini, or could they be found in other districts?
The Department had worked with businesses to help fund children to get back to school. Many children had not returned to school, however. The children had lost interest because they had lost everything. Preparing a child for school encompassed more than just providing a school uniform. Children needed books and other essential learning materials. Although this was not entirely the mandate of the DSD, this was a point that needed to be raised. Every child deserves quality education.
A deeper assessment of how people had been affected by the disaster floods needed to be explored. The Committee itself, along with departments, was tasked with the responsibility of saving lives and restoring normality to those affected by the disaster. Departments needed to work on becoming more integrated with one another.
Ms D Direko (ANC) said the presentation was appreciated, as well as the work done so far by the Department. A lot still needed to be done, however. Four months later, people were still in shelters. This needed urgent attention. The presentation indicated that the Department had provided 898 blankets and 888 mattresses, 676 dignity packs for people housed in shelters, and serviced about 72 shelters overall to a quantum of about R8.4 million. The statistics provide that 8 400 people were recorded in the shelters in April 2022. This meant that fewer than 1 000 of these people had been provided with only blankets, mattresses and dignity packs. What had happened to those who did not receive these resources? Were there any coordinated programmes with other relevant stakeholders to assist? Was there an alternative plan in place, other than that of the Department? Were people still sleeping on the floor?
The presentation also indicated that the shelters posed a threat to increasing the number of GBV cases and other related problems, like Covid-19 infections. Were any GBV cases reported from the shelters so far? Were any Covid-19 cases reported, and if so, what action had the Department taken? What was the status of the shelters? When the Committee visited KwaZulu-Natal, most of the shelters were struggling. At the time, there had been no tangible assistance from government. These shelters mostly relied on the community to assist, instead of government. This may not necessarily be wrong, because the disaster was a challenge for us all. Was the Department able to assist at all of the shelters, or were only some of the shelters assisted?
Ms L Beebee (ANC, KZN) said that the previous speakers had covered most of the questions she had wanted to ask. She requested a proper coordination plan from the Department. There was a particular hall that hosted 400 people, but there was no coordination within this hall and it was uncertain who was in charge and what could be done to assist.
Mr L Mangcu (ANC) said that under the heading ‘Services to Shelters,’ the Department had said that the North West and the Eastern Cape shelters had been decamped and affected people now re-integrated into society. The Committee had been to the North West, and there were no people in shelters there. However, people had been taken in by their own families and later moved out when the environment became conducive. The Department needed to be specific. Where were these shelters? How many people were there?
Under the ‘SASSA KZN Interventions’ heading, the Department had mentioned that burial support had been provided to families worth 'R1980 x2.' What did this ‘R1980 x2’ precisely mean? The impression was that the Department was interacting with organisations like AVBOB, which provided funeral services. Was there a consolidation of the support from organisations that provided funeral services and the R1 980 burial support? It was important for the Committee to know whether there was consolidation. It was important for the Committee to “follow the money.” Where did the money go to? Did it get to the right people? A consolidated report could not be found under the heading ‘Donations Coordination.’
A clear and detailed consolidated report was expected four months after the disaster floods. This report should outline what donations had been received, who the donors were and how valuable the donations were. Did the Department have this detailed report? If it had it, could the Committee have it? If the Department did not have the report, it could be acquired by the Committee at a later stage. Further, the presentation stated that other donations had been coordinated at the provincial level. When the Committee performed its oversight visit to the affected provinces, it was said that the national sphere of government coordinated the international donors and that the provincial sphere exercised no control over these donors. The presentation today seemed to contradict this. For example, while the Committee was in KwaZulu-Natal, Qatar made a donation. The Premier had been invited and a handover took place. There were, however, no details. This needed to be clarified. Who was coordinating these international donations and what was their value? Where did these donations go?
There was also a slide which referred to psychological support. What psychological support had the Department given (in numbers)? Presently, what psychological support is being given? How many families had been supported or been reached? How many individuals had been supported? What budget had been received? How much of the R1billion relief fund did the Department receive? How much of this money was re-prioritised where the Department might have had grants? The figures in the presentation were very thin. There was an eagerness to know how much had been spent.
Mr M Mashego (ANC) said the Committee had received a report detailing the day-to-day work of the Departments. It was important for the Committee to know the boundaries of its mandate. The Committee had been given a specific role in performing its oversight duty.
[There was a brief interruption and the Chairperson had to intervene].
Chairperson Frolick reminded Members to address the co-Chairpersons instead of one another, and to refrain from interrupting each other. Members were encouraged to focus on their own personal inputs. They were also reminded of the rules, and instructed to follow them.
Mr Mashego continued, noting that the Minister had said there were 482 households. The figures in the presentation, however, show that 8 400 people were in the shelters in April. According to the Department, 826 TRUs had been completed to date and 760 had been occupied. If there were only 482 households, why were 826 TRUs built? Who were they building them for? Further, 760 were already occupied, yet there were still a number of people who had not been allocated a TRU. It was good to see the number of people in shelters drop from 8 400 in April, to 6 551 in July. The number of people in shelters still outnumbered those in TRUs, however.
What exactly informed the R1980x2 burial support? The government was paying R350 to the unemployed. Was there a special dispensation for the people affected by the disaster floods? What informed the double payment of R1 980? Was it for burial purposes? Was it believed that it cost R3 960 to bury someone?
TRU was an abbreviation which stood for ‘Transitional Residential Unit.’ This unit had a timeframe. It must be demolished or relocated for future use. It was possible that some families were likely without homes before the disaster floods and that in the absence of the TRUs, they would be homeless. Were they still calling it a TRU? Would a permanent structure be built to house people? If yes, then by when would this structure be built?
Ms H Mkhaliphi (EFF) was concerned about the change of leadership in KZN, with the new Premier. This might hinder progress, particularly in resolving issues related to the floods. There was a particular case in Ward 57 that had been raised and recorded in Parliament. This case concerned the Buthelezi family, who had not received intervention from the government. It was unfortunate that after four months, no report in relation to the floods had been received from the Department. The presentation mentioned how frustrating it was to still have people in the shelters. There was, however, no clear direction on how and when those individuals in shelters would be removed from those spaces. The Minister needed to answer whether there were any coordinated efforts from the DSD and the Department of Human Settlements. The current change in leadership in KwaZulu-Natal could delay moving people out of the shelters.
She commended the Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, for being very responsive, as opposed to the Minister. The Deputy Minister had shared some of the frustrations the Department had. It had been reported that at some point, they had to change the car they used to deliver food packages because it would attract people who had not been affected by the disaster floods, but who were living in poverty.
What was the latest report in terms of the intervention made by the Department? The latest news was an allegation that people had been removed from a particular area in Montclair in KwaZulu-Natal over the weekend. The people were occupying a building from Transnet. These were illegal occupants, but had been victims of floods from Umlazi, so what was the status of those people?
Regarding ‘psychosocial services,’ there were 2 000 unemployed social workers in KwaZulu-Natal who could be utilised. The presentation suggested that survivors of the disaster floods needed counselling, but the Department did not have enough resources. The unemployed social workers could be used to intervene in the psychosocial services. Did the Department give sensitivity training to its own social workers? This training was important to ensure that social workers were empathetic towards those affected by the disaster floods.
Mr T Brauteseth (DA, KZN) thanked the co-Chairpersons for allowing those on the virtual platform to participate. The Members who joined virtually were not being disloyal by doing so. Some Members may have had their schedules planned months in advance. He had four issues to highlight.
It was concerning to note that the Director-General had said that in future, reliance needed to be placed on the private sector to assist government in performing its duties. The private sector had finite resources, which were nowhere near as much as the government's. The country therefore could not entirely rely on the private sector to always assist government. Taxes were being paid to the government, which should fix the issues.
The issue about community halls had previously been raised with co-Chairperson Nyambi, and certain photographs had been shared with Minister Ngubane. There was a particular community hall called Mountainview Community Hall. 400 people were staying in it. People were living in conditions where one could potentially launch a Human Rights Commission (HRC) complaint. Was anything being done to ameliorate the circumstances at the hall?
During the oversight visits, it was noted that not all community halls had electricity and were running cooking operations. Gas was also a big problem in setting up these cooking operations. It seemed as though the Department had not considered this in terms of supplying these community halls with gas.
The rollout of the TRUs had to be expedited. The delay in the rollout was why community halls were still full. Various reports had been read from the provinces, and land was one of the major stumbling factors. Could this matter be accelerated? Could there be a directive from the Committee to the Department of Human Settlements? Could the Department of Human Settlements be called within two days to provide an update? The Committee needed to “light the fire at their feet.”
Chairperson Frolick said that he would not debate the matter concerning the physical attendance of Members. Members should prioritise the activities of the Committee, even during constituency periods. This would be the last hybrid session the Committee had, and in future Members would be expected to physically attend. Many of the questions centred on the TRUs. The Committee would conduct a follow up oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal, paying specific attention to the matters raised.
Mr Mchunu thanked Members for their questions. Some officials within the Department would be given an opportunity to answer the questions. Mr Simlindile Jabavu, SASSA Acting Regional Manager for KZN, would respond to the double payment (R1 980 x 2) and the amount of money provided regarding social relief of distress, as well as the burial support and special dispensations. Ms Isabella Sekawana, Director: Service Standards, DSD, would respond to the impact on children and issues related to children.
Chairperson Frolick interrupted to inform the DG that Mr Jabavu could not be seen nor clearly heard. This was the disadvantage of sitting on a virtual platform when dealing with urgent matters and important issues. The questions would be deferred to another official who was audible and visible. Once the audio and video of Mr Jabavu were fixed, he would be given an opportunity to respond. The DG was asked to coordinate this.
The DG apologised and said Ms Sekawana would speak next and would respond to the questions asked about the children and the training of social workers. Mr Peter Netshipale, DDG: Community Development, DSD, would respond to the issues of food provision.
Mr Netshipale said that at the beginning of the disaster, many donors had flocked to the area to support the affected families. There were several food donations. With time this support had dwindled, but the Department had Community Nutrition Development Centres (CNDCs). The shelters close to the CNDCs had received their food from there. This meant that their meals were cooked and provided to them daily. The Church of Christ donated food to the shelters. Presently, some shelters were cooking for themselves. Some foods were donated from the private sector. Many NGOs had come on board -- they were providing food, and some tried to donate water. Some provided meals daily to different shelters. The current status was a mixture of the food provided by CNDCs, including the shelters that were cooking for themselves, and the donated foods that were coming. The Department, alongside the Department of Health, prioritised the quality assurance of the food. To date, there have been no adverse effects from the meals. The Department did its best to ensure that families within the shelters were provided with food.
Ms Sekawana said that the issue of the impact of children in the shelters had been assessed. Children could not be grouped with adults. Attempts had been made to remove the children and put them into alternative care, but the parents of those children had refused this arrangement. In terms of Chapter 2 of the Children’s Act, 38 of 2005, parents and relatives were empowered to keep the children with them, particularly if they had the capacity to do so. It was therefore difficult for the Department to separate children from adults. No cases of children being raped had been reported. The only reported case of rape was from a 23-year-old woman. Psychosocial support was provided in the aforementioned case and was referred to the police. The Department was unaware of any incidents of GBV occurring in the shelters.
Regarding the training of social workers, the curriculum empowered social workers to deal with people. The Department worked in partnership with the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP). SACSSP promoted the profession of social work, but also protected the beneficiaries. Training was taking place where social workers were empowered to ensure that they adhered to the codes of ethics. Any incidents should be reported to the SACSSP.
Mr Jabavu said there was a consolidated list of all the people who had been assisted. There were 325 families in total. This list had been audited by the Auditor-General (AG). The list could be provided on request.
In response to the question as to what informed the figure of R1 980, this figure was in terms of the SASSA disaster guidelines informed by the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002, in response only to disasters. The figure was the equivalent of an “old-age” grant. This money was meant to cater for groceries, necessities, food lost during the disaster and other household needs. It would be given to persons from the shelters or someone who had been recommended. In respect of the double amount -- the R1 980 x 2 -- this was also equivalent to an old-age grant and not necessarily money to arrange a burial. This figure was meant to assist the family while preparing for the burial.
Mr Mchunu said there had been an error in highlighting the Northern Cape -- it should have been the North West.
It was important to note that government was not the sole provider of meals. The Department worked closely with NGOs to assist in providing the meals. Churches, for instance, had been providing support for those in the shelters. There were also various other NGOs assisting. The Department also had its CNDCs in Durban, where there were over 90. People could access food and different levels of support from them. These centres had been fully operational and provided support to people. The TRUs were only in eThekwini. The other districts had not been highlighted because the Department was waiting for data from the province.
The Department was working closely with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other credible organisations to get children back into schools. The real time monitoring tool gave the Department a sense of what interventions were required. This had been shared with other government departments, but the results had not officially been launched. Other relevant departments had been involved to ensure that they became aware of the disaster's impact on children and took the lead.
The DSD relied on other organisations to work with them to provide support in the shelters. It “definitely” needed to improve its coordination overall. Not only government, but all sectors of society needed to do this. Regarding the consolidated number of shelters in the North West and the Eastern Cape, he said that there was a focus on the OR Tambo and Joe Gqabi Districts in the Eastern Cape. There were about three to five, but no more than five shelters. There was a very minimal amount of people, and they had moved out of those shelters. In the North West, there were around 33 people in shelters in Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality. The numbers the Department was projecting in the North West and Eastern Cape were those shelters prepared at the height of the disaster, and had since closed. The shelters were not necessarily up and running now, but rather at the height of the disaster.
The Department was working with organisations that provide funeral services, such as AVBOB. These organisations had been providing burial support.
The report had been based on what the Department had done, and involved that aligned with its mandate. The Department would provide the Committee with the consolidated amounts, detailing the specific donations by various countries. The national departments were coordinating the donors. The provinces coordinated other donations from the private sector, civil society and other members of society. The DSD, together with COGTA and DIRCO, was able to coordinate the support that was being provided. The relevant national departments worked closely with the provinces, and everything remained accounted for. The TRU matter was largely in the hands of COGTA and the Department of Human Settlements.
Mr Mchunu apologised to Ms Mkhaliphi for missing her call. The team had been asked to give full details on handling the Buthelezi family matter. A follow-up will be conducted. Coordination efforts were being made. A team from the Department would be deployed on the ground to visit the Transnet shelter, which had been closed. The DG of Public Enterprises was contacted about this matter. As soon as the team from the Department came back, a full update would be given to the Committee.
Social workers had been deployed to some of the areas. A call had also been made to National Treasury to increase the funding for additional social workers. More social workers were needed to ensure proactivity against social ills. Social workers were being trained especially on aspects of trauma. Specified training was being provided. Training was also tailored to the community's specific needs and context.
What the DSD suggested was not that the private sector alone should be the ones who should provide funding, but that one needed a coordinated approach from the private sector, government, civil society, NGOs and all sectors of society. This was the best approach to resolve the challenges they faced, particularly in responding to disaster issues. The private sector was a corporate citizen in themselves, and had a duty and responsibility to assist. All the necessary funding, even within the private sector, had not been unlocked. The Department successfully partnered with the private sector to work through disasters and other related challenges. Creative and innovative memorandums of understanding (MOUs) were being signed, and partnerships were being formed with various corporate bodies across the spectrum. The support needed was not merely monetary, but also the expertise and skills that could assist the government during these disasters. Technical support and expertise were very valuable. A written response would be submitted for those questions that could not be answered during this session.
Minister Zulu said that the team had responded to most of the questions. The communities surrounding the shelters had been thanked for their continued assistance. It was the collective responsibility of all to help during a disaster. Many of the shelters were halls belonging to churches owned mainly by women. These churches were thanked for their continued support. They had helped individuals in the shelters organise themselves into functioning groups that were later able to lead themselves and take on responsibilities.
The Department was not tasked initially with providing gas to survivors in the shelters. The initiative of providing gas, pots and industrial stoves had been taken because there were no inside cooking facilities, and people were cooking outside. Intervention was needed to ensure people shared the facilities and food, because some wanted to cook individually. Individual cooking was not possible, because the food came in particular packs that encouraged cooking in bulk.
Efforts were made to ensure that social workers would be employed and paid for their work. It was important for social workers to be remunerated. The Department was working with the Department of Finance to seek alternative and additional funding. Other departments had social workers, and attempts were being made to form a coordinated approach.
The DG had been correct in saying that the private sector was a corporate citizen in itself and had a duty and responsibility to assist. This assistance, however, needed to be done in a coordinated manner. The Department would provide the Committee with an updated detailed report on the specific data requests that had been made concerning certain areas, individuals and progress.
The welcoming of the new KZN Premier, and new leadership in general, did not threaten the progress on the projects of the previous Premier and the out-going leadership. This was one government, and lessons were being learned. The new Premier had made it clear that continuity would persist. The Department would engage with the new Premier, not to start from scratch, but to continue from where the old Premier had left off.
Minister Zulu apologised for having missed any calls from Ms Mkhaliphi. The Ministry had various duties and various stakeholders to respond to daily. She did try her best to respond to everyone, but realistically this was not always possible.
A response from the Deputy Minister had not been made in isolation of the work done by the Minister and the Department. The Deputy Minister was also on the ground, and had been there for much longer than the Minister herself. She did not “want to play politics,” but instead wanted to be a “responsible Minister” and leader of the DSD, the NDA and SASSA. Much more still needed to be done. The Department was doing its best to ensure the resources were being pulled together. There was a system in place for coordination. The weakness was ensuring the continuity of the coordination and communication at all times.
Chairperson Frolick said that the research team, together with the Committee, would communicate with the DSD on the issues raised. These would form the basis and background for the Committee’s return visit to KwaZulu-Natal. It was very discomforting and distressing to see the conditions to which South Africans were still subjected in the areas affected by the floods. It was therefore important for the Department to get first-hand information on the ground to see what changes had taken place and how the lives of people had improved.
The Department will be performing its oversight visit within the next 14 days. Members were encouraged to keep their diaries open for the last week in August. The programme would be communicated to the relevant departments.
Department of Transport
Ms Lydia Sindisiwe Chikunga, Deputy Minister of Transport, said the disaster floods had led to the loss of life. Many could not access essential services such as hospitals, schools and clinics because of damaged roads, bridges and railway lines. The South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) had been appointed as the coordinator to deal with the damages to the road infrastructure. The Passenger Rail Authority of South Africa (PRASA) had been appointed to deal with the damage to the railway system, and would work with Transnet Freight Rail (TFR).
Several ministerial engagements had taken place with various MECs and political leaders. SANRAL had implemented a waiver on toll fees at the uThongathi and Mvoti toll plazas on the N2 toll route in KwaZulu-Natal. This decision would be reviewed and rescinded once normality was restored. The repair of damaged roads was being prioritised and accelerated. The presentation would indicate the progress made by the Department of Transport. Following the assessment by provinces and other spheres of government, SANRAL put together a professional team to conduct further assessments in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Details of the findings in the form of projects had been captured on the SANRAL mobile app. Minister Fikile Mbalula had established a rapid response team to coordinate, monitor and implement the work plan. This team provided ongoing updates to the Ministry, and compiled a formal progress report. This progress report will be discussed today.
Engagements had been held with the National Disaster Management Centre to provide feedback on the response plans and commitments to ensure all processes' alignment and prevent duplications. Engagements with National Treasury on considering the financial proposals were on course. The DoT and the Department of Public Enterprises would report on the work done to repair rail infrastructure.
The Minister handed over to Mr Ngwako Makaepea, acting DG, to provide a detailed presentation on the progress made.
DoT's flood relief efforts
Mr Makaepea said the April floods had resulted in the loss of lives, and left hundreds homeless and unable to access basic amenities. Access to hospitals, schools, shops, clinics and areas of work had been affected due to damage to roads and bridges. Access had been rendered difficult and unsafe to utilise in the affected areas, causing great inconveniences to the affected communities. Provincial management and specialists inspected the affected routes to determine the risks, mitigations and financial impact. PRASA had done a similar exercise for rail.
This province experienced damage to its road infrastructure starting in December 2021 to January 2022, and it was also affected by the April storms. Damage was reported in the district municipalities, with an estimated total cost of R4.039 billion. Floods had affected the districts of Dr Ruth Mompati, Ngaka Modiri Molema, Bojanala and Dr Kenneth Kaunda. Most damage involved road and structure wash-aways, bridge collapses, gravel loss and erosion. The province had to use available resources to provide alternative routes to enable mobility and access to services. Further repair could be undertaken only once funds had been made available through reprioritisation and reallocation.
Some of the affected roads were also affected by previous floods that occurred in December and January. Based on assessments, damage was reported on 224 roads involving 2 753,61 kilometers and 32 structures, with an estimated cost of R1.361 billion. The floods had affected the districts of Alfred Nzo, OR Tambo, Joe Gqabi, Chris Hani and Amathole. Most damage involved road wash aways, bridge collapses, landslides and erosion. While repair works were under way, districts had provided alternative routes to enable movement and access to services.
The KZN Department of Transport had suffered infrastructural damages to an estimated amount of R5.799 billion. A reprioritisation exercise of projects to the outer financial years had initially made available an amount of R2 689 899 220 for flood repairs, which had since been increased to R2.911 billion, as a result of R221 million in additional funds being made available from a maintenance reprioritisation exercise. The shortfall had been reduced from R3.109 billion to R2.698 billion. The Department had submitted the reprioritised budget to the KZN Provincial Treasury, which had supported the virement/ reprioritisation on 27 May.
The Department had prioritised 730 projects based on the available budget of R2.911 billion. A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) was signed between the Department and SANRAL to repair infrastructure damage on the M4 and R102, which are priority routes within the Province. Through an existing MoA between the KZN Transport Department and the National Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (NDPWI), bailey bridges would be implemented on 23 locations to provide access. The province had done an exercise to prioritise their budgets and requested support from the Department of Transport for their proposal, but there was still a shortfall of R953 million that could not be prioritised
Summary of interventions by DoT
- Ministerial engagements with the various MECs, including joint site visits/inspections with other Ministers, and meetings with the political leadership in the provinces.
- Waiver of toll fees by SANRAL at oThongathi and Mvoti toll plazas on the N2 toll route to assist those communities whose alternative roads had been damaged by the floods as a temporary measure. This decision would be reviewed and rescinded as soon as things normalise.
- The repair of the alternative roads, while these interim measures were in place, would be prioritised and accelerated to make it possible for the affected communities to use them again as soon as possible.
- A rapid response team was established to coordinate, monitor and implement the work plan, and provide ongoing updates to the Minister and a formal progress report.
- Engagement was held with National Disaster Management Centre to provide feedback on the response plans and commitments to ensure alignment of all processes, avoid duplication of efforts, etc.
- All projects had been completed and details captured on the SANRAL mobile app.
- SANRAL would implement some projects on behalf of road authorities, in line with provisions of the SANRAL Act, as per formal appointment by the road authorities.
(See presentation for details)
Chairperson Nyambi thanked the acting Director-General for a focused and “to the point” presentation. It had been detailed, and would be very useful to the Committee when it embarked on the oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal.
Mr S Zandamela (EFF, Mpumalanga) expressed concern over the lack of detail concerning North West, compared to the more detailed KwaZulu-Natal breakdown.
Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) said his question was similar to Mr Zandamela’s. The presentation of KwaZulu-Natal went into fine detail, with national, regional and municipal roads and their numbers. Only one slide on the Eastern Cape mentioned a detailed figure, but there were no details regarding the roads and municipalities affected. When the Committee visited Port St. Johns in the Eastern Cape, officials had indicated that they worked with a R38 million budget which had to cover everything to do with the infrastructure grant. Some of the equitable share had to be used as a supplement. The Department needed to provide the Committee with a report focused on the Eastern Cape and the North West. This report needed to show the areas which had been damaged, the costs related to the damage and the reconstruction progress. Was there an update regarding the application to National Treasury for funding?
An update on SANRAL had been mentioned, but no update in respect of PRASA was noted. The report on KwaZulu-Natal concerning the bridges, particularly the rural bridges, had been detailed. He requested the same detail to be applied to the reports on the Eastern Cape and the North West.
Ms M Lesoma (ANC) said that the well-being of the people who had been evicted and displaced at the Yellowwood Park Transnet building was a concern. It was important for the Department to be cautious and conscious of where it deposited the rubble it collected from damaged infrastructure. Did the roads include gravel roads which fell under national government? Were there any discussions with the provincial government and municipality? Was a distinction between the roads naturally damaged by wear and tear and those damaged by the floods? If this distinction had been made, would the closing of potholes still be launched? Potholes were issues relating to the maintenance of roads. What was the Department's approach in terms of this?
Ms Beebee said it was evident that the DoT had done work. PRASA had provided funding of approximately R2 billion. Did PRASA usually have contingency funds to be used when dealing with road damage? Could the Department provide additional information on whether the entities had to redirect funds from other projects toward resolving the disaster damage? If this was the case, what were the projects already planned by PRASA and SANRAL which would be affected, or were already affected? What was the current rate of rebuilding roads and railway networks?
People were very desperate for transport. What alternative transport options were available to them? How would the Department assist them? Had the Department proposed to National Treasury for virements to assist with the flood disaster? If so, how much? Were they made on behalf of PRASA or SANRAL? Regarding the Eastern Cape, was the money being dispersed only now to remedy roads damaged by previous floods in December and January? Damage with an estimated cost of R1.360 billion had been reported -- was this amount inclusive of addressing the previous damage which had occurred in December and January?
Mr Mangcu focused on the slide titled “Summary of Interventions by the Department,” which mentioned that all the projects had been completed and details captured on the SANRAL mobile app. The Committee did not have access to the app, making an assessment difficult. On the R61 in the Eastern Cape at the entrance to Port St Johns, an emergency followed immediately after the floods. The work there had not been completed, however. SANRAL told the municipality at Port St Johns that they would be considered only in phase two. This was a recipe for disaster. If another flood occurred, Port St Johns would be flooded at the entrance again. Could there be an intervention?
Regarding the budget-related matters and the progress to date, shown on slide 15, why was value-added tax (VAT) included in some figures and not others? The R800 million allocated to the Eastern Cape was of interest. The assumption was that SANRAL would use the capital budget. What the province required to repair the gravel and rural roads had not been included. It seemed as though more attention was being given to restoring major roads. The rural roads seemed to have been neglected. Eastern Cape officials had requested approximately R950 million from the Department in their Provincial Road Maintenance Grant (PRMG). In the previous financial year, the province had relinquished approximately R850 million of the PRMG. Little had been said about how the PRMG was being used to respond to the plight of people using rural roads in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal and the North West. Information specifically related to the response taken by the DoT in respect of rural and gravel roads was requested.
The ‘Summary of Interventions by PRASA’ mentioned the Illovo River Bridge, and stated that PRASA had issued the Rail Network Construction (RNC) division with a letter of award to commence with structural assessments, geotechnical and hydrology investigations. This situation was not being treated like a disaster since, four months later, an award was being issued for an assessment. People who relied on PRASA trains were financially vulnerable, particularly with the increase in fuel prices. Trains had become the most reasonable means of transport, and some would not have access to these trains.
The ‘SANRAL Implementation Progress to Date’ slide referred to the flood damage verification process by SANRAL, and stated that the verification of KwaZulu-Natal and eThekwini Municipality flood-damaged roads was 100% complete. However, this did not give details on what had happened in the other two affected provinces. The slide furthermore stated that confirmation of funding by the National Department of Transport still needed to be confirmed. The status was still pending, and reprioritisation still needed to be confirmed four months later. This was a matter of concern, and drastic changes needed to be made.
Mr Mashego said PRASA did not necessarily own the railway lines but by the old Spoornet --now renamed the Transnet Freight Rail (TFR). There were concerns that delays might be caused in working the TFR line using the PRASA entity. What was needed as an intervention for the damage to be speedily dealt with? There was a criminal element which needed to be dealt with. There was a group of individuals demanding 30% for work being done. This was presently being used as a hindrance.
The presentation failed to address the rubble, debris and damage alongside the roads in KwaZulu-Natal. What was the status of the difficulties communicated to the Committee during its oversight visit there? Since the tollgates were independent entities, how would they be treated if damaged during the floods? Mpumalanga had not been mentioned in the presentation, but had also been affected. He commended the Department, as the presentation showed that tangible progress was made.
Ms Mbinqo-Gigaba acknowledged the swift intervention, but did not know whether to attribute it to the national or provincial departments. When the Committee met with the Premier in KwaZulu-Natal, they reopened certain roads. The Premier said they had not received money from the national coffers. The presentation showed that the national Department had also intervened. The interest was on phase one -- how was the money spent? Were tender processes followed? In phase two, there were tender processes mentioned and followed. In phase one, there were deviation issues which the acting DG had raised, which the Department needed to deal with them. What specifically were those deviations, in what areas of the province, and how did they affect the budget?
Mr Brauteseth said the Committee had visited a road called the Mr551, which led to Shongweni in Mpumalanga. Residents had fixed the road themselves. Some within the community were angry that no assistance had come from the government. There was also a bridge with one end completely destroyed, which disconnected the entire end of the town of Mpumalanga.. Why was a report on the Mr551 not seen in the presentation? Why was work not being done on it? Was it a provincial report? Did this mean that the DoT would give the Committee a complete picture or a national picture? Taking alternative routes amounted to an extra R40 being spent, which was untenable.
Another issue was around the N2 in Umgababa and the N2 at Adams Road (Amanzimtoti), as seen on slide 28 of the presentation. It had been said that the work on these roads would commence in July, but the work would begin only on 28 September. Why had the work not started in July as per the undertaking of Mr Skhumbuzo Macozoma, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SANRAL? This was a major problem, because the two areas of Umgababa and Amanzimtoti had massive traffic snarl-ups because of the narrowing of those roads.
Mr F du Toit (FF+, Free State) said that the slides showed that KwaZulu-Natal had experienced road damage amounting to R5.7 billion. The North West had experienced road damage worth R4 billion, even though it did not receive nearly as much rainfall as KwaZulu-Natal. The speculation was that this amount included historical damage, and the lack of maintenance had contributed to the current state of the roads in the North West. It had been said that one bridge had been swept away.
The Department should provide the Committee with the average standard cost of resurfacing and rebuilding different types of roads. This information should be given in a price per square meter range because roads come at different widths. This would assist Members when scrutinising the figures during the oversight visits. A detailed report of the costs and roads damaged was therefore requested.
Mr Dumisani Nkabinde, Regional Manager: Eastern Region, SANRAL, responded to the question regarding the funding from National Treasury. Where National Treasury did not approve funding, reprioritisation was used. Reprioritisation was dealt with by looking at how SANRAL budgeted for its projects. Some projects ran 24 hours a day. There were also maintenance projects. All the freeways had a 24-hour contractor assigned to it. There was also a stream for capital projects which could be delayed without affecting the operations on the ground.
Secondly, SANRAL insured all its infrastructure, meaning all freeways in South Africa were insured. When the disaster floods occurred, a claim was launched against the insurers so money could be received to repair the roads. Financing came from the reprioritisation, replenishing it by claiming from the insurance. These claims had been made in the past, and this had worked well. This was only for the national roads, and it was uncertain whether other road authorities used insurance.
There had been a question about the rubble alongside the roads. This had been noted, and the rubble was temporary. The contractors on the ground had environmental plans to handle the rubble and dump it on registered sites. Regarding the gravel road issues, in KwaZulu-Natal, the budget indicated a figure of R2.9 billion. The provincial government planned to spend this R2.9 billion on 593 projects, and R2.4 billion of the R2.9 billion would be spent on fixing gravel and rural roads.
Regarding the Department distinguishing between maintenance and damage related to the floods, the budget had shifted from high value to reduced value. This was because of an assessment the SANRAL team had done. It had been tasked with verifying the assessment done by the provincial and municipal teams. The verification was aimed at verifying what had been submitted. The SANRAL team confirmed those projects registered as ‘flood-related’ due to lack of maintenance, and only projects related to the floods were placed on the list, and the budget was adjusted accordingly.
In respect of the current rate of rebuilding, the work SANRAL undertook around Umlazi was to remove truck loads of sand from the N2, which had been inaccessible because of all the sand. Focus was being placed on clearing the highways. SANRAL had observed that the R102, a provincial road, was in a very bad state. Priority would be placed on opening at least one lane.
SANRAL had three and five year route and road contracts that operated 24 hours daily. Within these contracts, there were funds put aside for emergencies. Those funds had been used for emergencies and redirected to deal with the minor work in phase one. These funds were helpful because they did not have to go through procurement.
The SANRAL app was available to everyone. The only requirement was to be registered and to undertake some training. There had been a road maintenance indaba in Gauteng where a decision was taken that SANRAL should assist all provinces with handling the data. The app was a result of this resolution. The information was therefore available and accessible.
Referring to the Umgababa and Amanzimtoti projects, he said the more dire project was Amanzimtoti. At Umgababa, there had been a total closure of the highway. This issue was prioritised by building just one lane as a detour to ensure the freeway was still free flowing. In Amanzimtoti, there was still accessibility available, as opposed to other areas.
The failure to commence in July and the commencement date being shifted to September had been due to stringent procurement requirements which needed to be undertaken. SANRAL was trying to undertake proper procurement so that when there was a need to call back and redo, the process would be smooth. In Amanzimtoti, SANRAL had to refine procurement issues and then go back to tender. This was why the commencement date had shifted from July to September.
The Mr551 was a municipal road at eThekwini. eThekwini had allocated around R300 million from its funding. When the disaster floods happened, the municipality was nearly at the end of its financial year, and funds were unavailable. The focus would be on repairs, as the funds became available. Important roads and bus routes were being prioritised. This was in the municipality's roll-out plan.
Chairperson Nyambi handed over to the DG, who said the following responses would cover the signalling project, the Illovo bridge procurement process, how the procurement process had been carried out, and the nature of the working TFR lines versus PRASA.
Funds were being reprioritised from PRASA’s existing capital programme. The funds were taken from existing projects. Reprioritisation had been approved. Slow-spending and delayed projects had been targeted. Additional funds would be accessed to cater for any predicted shortfalls. This would be done by looking at earmarked funding. The R2.89 billion referenced was not for this financial year. The amount was spread over a number of years, but this funding request could be managed and prioritised.
The issue regarding the Illovo bridge had been noted, as well as the point made about the four month delay. PRASA had had significant engagements with various entities to determine how it could fast-track critical geotechnical and design services. It had engaged SANRAL, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and RNC on proposals for repairing the bridge. PRASA had issued RNC a letter of award to commence with structural assessments, and geotechnical and hydrology investigations. This was for the geotechnical investigations, but would also include PRASA’s concept and preliminary design phase, which would inform the actual construction of the bridge. The internal teams on the South Coast lines were ready to embark on the internal clean-up of debris on the line. Priority had been placed on accelerating work on the Reunion stations, because this was a critical junction which allowed access to Umlazi and the South Coast corridor.
Regarding the ownership of the railway lines, some were owned by TFR, but PRASA owned the lines it was reporting on. From KwaMashu to Umlazi, and the South Coast down to Kelso and Pinetown lines, were owned by PRASA. TFR owned certain sections. There was a critical line which PRASA operated on, from KwaMashu down to Durban, owned by TFR. Transnet also owned the line to the North Coast and Tongaat. There were, however, shared user agreements prioritising the commuter rails. To prioritise when they were sharing lines, PRASA had appointed RNC, a division of TFR, and made it clear that PRASA lines needed to be prioritised from a metro rail point of view. RNC had to demonstrate their capacity, and they had done this.
Labour was being recruited from communities adjacent to the affected railway lines. This recruitment had been done for the Reunion, as well as the Merebank line that had collapsed. Members of the community had been appointed and recruited through RNC. PRASA had also outsourced to small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) through the RNC contracts. The challenge was with the business forums, where demands were not being met. These demands from the business forums impacted the recovery process from PRASA because they could not move on to the other sites that needed repair. The Reunion and the embankment had, however, been completed. If more detail was required in respect of this, an arrangement could be made for the Committee to obtain that detail.
DG said that the question asked by Mr Du Toit in respect of the ‘average standard cost of resurfacing and rebuilding different types of roads’ would be responded to the Committee in writing.
A PRASA engineer said the Provincial Maintenance Road Grant (PRMG) was a supplementary fund allocated to provinces. It was earmarked for projects prioritised within the provinces through their provincial legislatures. It was for resealing, re-gravelling and rehabilitation. The rehabilitation portion was limited to 25% of the PRMG. The Eastern Cape had wanted this money in advance, but at the time, the Expropriation Bill had not yet been passed, so only a certain percentage of the funds could be dispersed. Secondly, projects had been prioritised within the PRMG, but then the disaster floods happened, leaving the Eastern Cape with the dilemma of deciding which projects to defer. The province had asked for additional funding. The R800 million funding proposal had been taken to National Treasury to assist the Eastern Cape.
The details of all the projects and implementations that had been made would be obtained. There was a detailed project list and verifications of all the flood-related damage or incidents. The organisation responsible for the verification was the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), but PRASA had intervened to fast-track the process so that work could be completed faster. The details of this will be made available to the Committee.
There was a bridge programme nationally. 95 bridges were being prioritised nationwide. Regarding KwaZulu-Natal, the floods had accelerated the need to construct these bridges. Part of the R2.9 billion had been set aside for 23 bridges. The bridges would be implemented in partnership with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure and the National Defence Force.
The DG concluded that the Department would provide a detailed report on the assessments done on the Eastern Cape and the North West. It dealt with issues of coordination by collaborating with the provinces and municipalities. There was also an element of monitoring through the PRMG regarding money being given to provinces. The projects dealt with in this regard could be monitored. Additional information that the Committee had requested, such as the average standard cost of resurfacing, would be provided.
Deputy Minister's closing remarks
Deputy Minister Chikunga said the questions, comments and proposals made by the Committee would all be considered. The Department was aware of the Committee's upcoming oversight visit, and looked forward to engaging on the ground. Detailed accounts on the Eastern Cape and the North West would be provided. The plans mentioned by the Department included both rural and urban roads, but prioritisation would still need to happen. There was a waiver of toll fees by SANRAL at the oThongathi and Mvoti toll plazas on the N2 toll route. These toll fees involved revenue collection, which would negatively impact SANRAL. It was therefore important to prioritise the repair of roads that were mostly used.
The Department had tried its best to work with the Auditor-General to ensure all legislative processes were being followed. Attempts had been made to speed up the processes, but this needed to be done within the legal framework.
Department of Small Business Development
Deputy Minister's opening remarks
Mr Sidumo Dlamini, Deputy Minister of Small Business Development, said that on 18 April, President Ramaphosa had declared a national state of disaster owing to the adverse weather that had affected KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and the North West, and a relief programme was extended to small businesses affected by the disaster floods. The DSBD had engaged with officials in the affected provinces and small business support agencies to develop a support package to provide relief for formal and informal enterprises.
After visiting the affected areas and affected businesses, the Department developed two supportive instruments. One focused on formal businesses, and the other focused on informal businesses. Using its internal processes, the DSBD had reprioritised a R60 million budget. R50 million was allocated to formal businesses, and R10 million was set aside for informal businesses. Anticipating that the need would be higher than the budget available, the Department had requested funding from National Treasury, which had referred the Department to the NDMC. The NDMC had declined the request, and indicated that the request fell outside the scope of the disaster response grant.
The Department proceeded to open applications through the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) and received a total of 457 applications from formal businesses with an estimated value of R225 million. However, it could support businesses to the tune of only R50 million, given the budget limitations. The Department would provide details of the programme's performance so far, including the formal business support interventions. One critical point was that the DSBD had used some lessons learned while implementing Covid-19 response interventions. There were engagements with other departments and institutions providing support to small businesses, to avoid double dipping. The Department had worked closely with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), and the provincial Departments of Economic Development.
DSBD's flood relief efforts
Mr Lindokuhle Mkhumane, Director-General, DSBD, said the Department had received 457 applications for relief funds. The estimated value of the assistance was R224 764 553. There were 408 applications received from KwaZulu-Natal valued at R200 535 781, and 49 from the Eastern Cape valued at R24 228 772. Of the 457 applications, 213 were owned by women and 154 were owned by youths. The dominant business sectors represented in the applications were agriculture, services, manufacturing, construction and tourism.
In terms of procurement, 25 purchase orders had been issued, amounting to R9 266 008. There were ten payments completed, amounting to R5 603 364. This week, 15 purchase orders will be processed. A budget of R5 600 000 had been transferred to the Eastern Cape to process 12 purchase orders, all of which were expected to be processed this week.
Informal Trader Relief Fund
This fund had been funded to the amount of R10 million. Applications opened on 25 July and closed on 12 August. The financial package was structured at a maximum value of R10 000 per informal trader. The 100% non-repayable grant funding was administered by the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) directly -- it would pay the funding directly into the suppliers’ accounts on approval and submission of invoice.
Formal Trader Relief Fund
This was comprised of a R50 million grant. Applications had opened on 25 April and closed on 13 May, and was intended for uninsured and underinsured formal small businesses in KwaZulu-Natal. The financial package was structured at a maximum value of R2 million per small enterprise. The 100% non-repayable grant funding was also administered by SEDA directly. The minimum application amount considered would be R10 000 and the maximum (for all line items) would be R2 million. SEDA would pay the funding directly into the suppliers’ accounts upon approval and submission of invoice.
(See presentation for details)
Ms Lesoma requested that the Committee be furnished with a detailed summary of where the beneficiaries were located. What criteria were used to select beneficiaries in the informal business sector? Notwithstanding that some of them fell under the municipality, informal businesses were not registered, which could entail their money not being banked in normal facilities. The lessons that should be borrowed from the experience of Covid-19 was that the informal business sector and the previously marginalised had not benefited from the Covid-19 relief funds. This was because the money had been given to the mainstream financial sector. The mainstream sector had its own criteria and expectations which had to be met to qualify. The Committee needed to be comforted that this time around, things would be done better. It would be unfair to see the same mainstream sectors benefiting without equalising the playing fields through financial assistance from the government.
Ms Beebee referred to the 100% non-repayable grant funding administered by SEDA directly, and asked if the Department oversaw and monitored this grant. Had SEDA experienced any challenges verifying invoices before dispersing the relief funds to formal and informal traders? Regarding slide 16, could the Department provide a spreadsheet of the procurement highlighted therein, because this was very important? The procurement figures were very important. Could the Department also focus on the impact of the disaster on small scale farmers who had also been adversely affected by the floods? Was the Department focused only on small scale retailers, or would it focus on small scale farmers too?
Mr Mangcu said that it would appear that the presentation given to the Committee was the SEDA presentation that had been submitted to the Committee on 5 August. Today was 11 August. This observation was important, because it showed the Committee that the Department was unprepared for this meeting. It seemed like it had not made any direct provisions for the presentation. Although SEDA was an entity of DSBD, it seemed it had not made any interventions related to the floods. If this were a SEDA presentation, the only interest would be on how the programmes SEDA had budgeted for would be affected by its intervention.
Slide 17, titled ‘Progress with the Informal Sector Flood Relief Programme’, stated that the informal trader flood relief programme had been opened for applications on 25 July, with the closing date on 12 August. The disaster floods occurred in April. Was this an appropriate response to the floods and the disaster declared by the President four months ago?
Mr Rayi asked the Department where the R60 million had come from -- was it a reprioritisation from existing programmes, or was it new money? During the 2021 July unrest, the Department and its entities intervened with a business recovery programme. This programme provided blended finance interventions with a 60% grant and 40% loan division. Were some businesses affected by the flood also recovering from the July unrest? The blended finance would thus entail that those businesses still needed to pay back the loan of 40%. It was also important to note that there was a repayment period of 60 months, and a 5% interest rate on the loan. The Department needed to investigate whether those businesses recovering from the July unrest formed part of the group affected by the floods. The number of applicants for the flood relief was also overwhelming. Some would not receive assistance because of the limited R60 million the Department was working with, considering that approximately R225 million was needed. Was the Department working in conjunction with other entities as it did during the July unrest? Collaboration was particularly important to secure additional funding for the applicants who might be left out due to the R60 million limited budget.
Mr Brauteseth was concerned about the 212 applications coming from eThekwini. The R123 million would not be enough to assist businesses in the area. The cost of the damage caused by the floods in eThekwini was well beyond R123 million. He requested that the Committee be provided with a breakdown of the R123 million, as well as the 212 applications. A list indicating the amounts, what the money was requested for, and when it was approved, needed to be compiled and submitted in writing to the Committee.
Ms Direko asked whether the Department had assessed the disaster floods to gain a clear idea of the disaster's impact on the economy. The DSBD had claimed that it had received 457 applications, which seemed a small quantity compared to the scale of the damage caused by the floods in eThekwini. It mentioned that some applications were declined because they could not be verified. What mechanisms were used to verify businesses? Some of these businesses might fall under informal traders. The closing date for applications had been 12 August. Was it possible for businesses that could not apply before the closing date to apply later? Was an extension of the due date possible?
Some areas in KwaZulu-Natal were very remote, and sometimes information did not reach these areas. When the Committee visited the province after the disaster floods, it was evident that there was no coordination or effective communication. Information reached others in remote areas much later, so they often missed out on important resources.
A detailed report on the nature of the assistance to businesses was requested. The Committee needed to know what work the Department had engaged in, and to assess whether the assistance provided was sustainable. This was to avoid repeating challenges and to ensure progress was made.
Mr Nkosikhona Mbatha, acting CEO, SEDA, said that information on the selection of beneficiaries for the relief fund would be provided to the Committee.
SEDA was working with municipalities in respect of informal businesses. Attempts have been made to make the application process more accessible by coordinating with the municipalities. Businesses could apply through the municipalities instead of directly through the Department. The Department was not strict regarding the applications of informal businesses. However, it had been difficult to verify the existence of informal businesses before the floods. There was an applicant who had lost vegetables during the floods, but there was no picture evidence to prove that the business had legitimately existed before the floods. It was much easier to perform verification assessments on formal businesses. For instance, if a formal business claimed that it had lost or damaged equipment due to the floods, the existence of the equipment could be checked by looking at the invoices of the business. Without these tangible means of verifying businesses and the losses they had suffered, it became very difficult for the Department to grant approvals.
SEDA would monitor the businesses it supported from a grant perspective to ensure they remained viable and profitable in the long term. These businesses would receive training on business management, how to run a business, and employees would be trained too. These businesses would be monitored for potential growth. It was important for them to remain sustainable and receive all the services, including advertising material, when they needed to reintroduce their products to the market.
Information on the procurement processes will be provided to the Committee. Regarding the question asked by Mr Rayi, the Department did not receive any ‘new money’ -- the funds in use had been reprioritised from the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) to SEDA. These funds were originally intended for SMMEs. The R10 million for the informal businesses had been received from the DSBD -- also reprioritised funds -- and the R50 million was received from SEFA. There had been a plea for additional funding which National Treasury had declined.
Regarding the similarities between the presentation and the document submitted on 5 August, SEDA had been requested to submit the presentation on 5 August to the Committee. However, the presentation was updated since 5 August to include figures not in the earlier version. The presentation had been meant for this Committee, but was just requested early and had later been adjusted to accommodate the updates.
The DG would explain the nature of the challenges experienced in the informal sector in terms of ensuring that the money reaches beneficiaries. The informal sector applications had been opened and then closed in May. Processing and conducting site visits and approvals has been happening since May. The process of engagement with retailers had taken longer than expected. Vouchers were eventually issued and vendors could later purchase from the retailers within the relevant areas where their businesses were located.
In terms of whether there were businesses who had been beneficiaries from the previous disaster grants, he said there were no applicants who had been given money for the July unrest. In the forms, the applicants were asked to declare if they had received prior funding from any government entities, not only limited to SEDA or SEFA. There was one applicant who had received the Technical Assistance Grant. No applicants had received money from the July unrest or the business recovery funds, however.
Mr Mkhumane said that the CEO had covered most of the questions. The SEDA and SEFA fell under the DSBD. Given the reach of SEDA, the Department had decided to work through it to offer support. The aim was to be closer to the ground to assist the relevant people who needed the support. The Department was active and worked through SEDA. The Minister and Deputy Minister had engaged with the businesses so that the instruments created by the DSBD would specifically cater to the challenges faced by businesses affected by the floods. The money had been reprioritised from other interventions -- there was no support from National Treasury or the NDMC. It was anticipated that more requests for assistance would be received because the floods had affected a vast number of businesses.
The Department cooperated closely with the IDC, which supported small businesses and the provinces. It was important for the Department to collaborate with other entities to avoid double dipping. A few lessons have been learned from the Covid-19 response. The Department was cautious about how the support from government was being used, and would ensure that people did not take advantage of the resources that had been made available.
Deputy Minister's closing remarks
Deputy Minister Dlamini said the DG and the CEO had fully responded to the questions. The questions and comments made by Members were embraced. This encouraged the DSBD to serve the people on the ground.
Department of Public Enterprises
Minister's opening remarks
Mr Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Public Enterprises, said that the DPE, with contributions from Transnet and Eskom, would brief the Committee on the recovery of the Transnet infrastructure from the impact of the KwaZulu-Natal floods.
The floods on 11 April had had an impact on the ports. The Committee would be shown what had to be done to make the ports accessible within 48 hours. The presentation would deal with the key access into the port area to collect containers and deliver exports. Efforts had been made to recover from a collapse of approximately 60 meters of one lane, which had disabled access for 24 hours into the harbour. Transnet had done remarkable work in getting one lane to work, to allow access in and out of the harbour. Work had also commenced on a bypass road very late last year which would create an additional access point.
During this period, the DPE discovered many canals in the Durban system that offloaded debris into the Durban harbour. This was what had created the problems the port experienced. The direction in which the canals flowed needed to be redesigned. Regarding access to the railway, access to and movement out of the Bayhead complex would be discussed. The major damage had been in the connection between eThekwini and Cato Ridge. Photographs would show the extent of the damage and the recovery process. The system extended to the North Coast and the South Coast as well. Parts of the South Coast were still inoperable. Besides the railway lines, there had been an impact on the Transnet engineering facilities, where some production of locomotives took place. A total of 430 rolling stock items were damaged by the floods, as well as 100 locomotives.
The Durban South Basin was an important industrial base for KwaZulu-Natal, particularly for the municipality. This was where big companies operated from. At the height of the floods, the Toyota plant was under a meter and a half of water. The Durban South Basin was an area that Transnet, the municipality and the province needed to carefully observe in terms of doing extensive re-planning.
As far as Eskom was concerned, there were no major issues. For a long period after the floods, eThekwini had been spared from load-shedding so that the recovery processing would not be interrupted. In addition, the staff from Eskom had put on standby to assist municipalities impacted by electricity issues.
Transnet flood relief efforts
Ms Portia Derby, CEO of Transnet, said that on 11 April, massive rainfall, floods and strong winds hit Durban. The impact had caused extensive damage to roads, buildings, underground infrastructure and power lines. Many roads were flooded and waterlogged, and there was absolute restriction to movement. The port was closed on 12 April. The Port of Durban suspended shipping due to adverse weather conditions. Some terminal operations were suspended due to heavy flooding, damage to facilities and road infrastructure, and staff absence due to transportation difficulties. The marine environment in the port was also negatively impacted, with widespread debris flowing into the port's waters. Various infrastructure within the port, including roads, bulk services, fencing, culverts, bridges, sub-stations and quay walls were damaged. The port deployed resources on site to implement emergency repair work and clear the debris in the bay. The Port of Durban operations resumed on 13 April, and it continued to monitor activities on the infrastructure repairs.
54 municipal stormwater outfalls drained a major portion of the Durban Central Business District (CBD) that discharged into the port. Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) was engaging eThekwini Municipality on the implementation of measures to prevent the opening of waste into the stormwater system. The restoration initiatives were being done in three phases.
The total cost of damage would negatively impact Transnet's cash flow, income statement and balance sheet. Asset impairments were currently being quantified at Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) and Transnet Engineering (TE). Costs had been scrubbed by internal teams and the insurance assessors and were 67% complete at this time. The eThekwini municipality's engineers had worked jointly with Transnet's engineers to find solutions. A decision to incorporate the reinstatement of the municipal sewer and potable water infrastructure into the works had been made impromptu. Speedy agreement between the municipality and the TNPA on the road rehabilitation had ensured the fast-return to service of the road.
The City would take over the management of Montclaire Lodge. Transnet Property would grant the City of eThekwini, through its Human Settlements Division, a first right of refusal to purchase the Lodge from Transnet Property, bearing in mind that the Lodge had already been advertised in the open market for disposal by Transnet Property.
Weather patterns have changed due to global warming, and this has brought about an increase in the severity of flood or storm events. The current infrastructure could no longer cope with these increased inclement weather conditions. New adaptable and resilient infrastructure needed to be built.
(See presentation for details)
Ms Beebee said it was evident that some of the work had been done by the DPE, Eskom and Transnet. On page six of the presentation, the Department claimed that it undertook monitoring and evaluation activities. The detailed reports and findings must be made available for the Committee to evaluate. Had the Department undertaken any analysis of the net economic loss of future activities, especially on the roads, rail and ports of the provinces affected by the floods? Did the Department look at mitigation strategies, incorporating disaster risk reduction, by identifying improvement points in all rail and port development projects, to alleviate the massive damage to the infrastructure?
Ms Lesoma commended the Minister for always availing himself when the Committee invited him. It was hoped that the municipality would maintain the Yellowwood Park Transnet building and ensure it remained in decent condition. The load-shedding relief that Eskom had provided to eThekwini was appreciated. The presentation mentioned the status of the damage to the rail infrastructure -- were there any future mitigating plans the Department had in this respect? It also discussed canals, the damage to sub-stations and the voltage cables. While the canals and voltage cables were being repaired, were there deliberate plans to protect cable lines from vandalism?
Minister Gordhan intervened to clarify, and said there was a senior Eskom executive who would make a detailed presentation on behalf of Eskom immediately after the questions from Members had been answered.
Mr Mashego asked about the unlawful occupation of the Transnet building, Montclaire Lodge and the City of eThekwini. The presentation had stated that Transnet would grant the City of eThekwini, through its Human Settlements Division, a first right of refusal to purchase the Lodge from Transnet Property. Further, the Lodge had already been advertised on the open market for disposal by Transnet Property. He was not pleased with this particular arrangement. Would the first right of refusal be given to the municipality or the occupants? If the first right of refusal were given to the municipality, what rights would the occupants who occupied these Transnet buildings have? The first right of refusal was usually a right given to those using or occupying the property. Would giving the first right of refusal to the municipality not hinder occupants from benefiting through this process? The market value of the Transnet properties was in the upper market range. The resale of the property might amount to it being sold to the occupants at enormous amounts. What arrangements had been made to deal with situations like these? What difficulties could the City of eThekwini have in accepting the offer from Transnet? The properties would often be vandalised when unoccupied. Why was the municipality not taking up the offer, because people needed housing?
Minister Gordhan said that the DPE had limited capacity. State-owned entities (SOEs) primarily managed the various processes Members had referred to in their questions. A presentation from Eskom would commence after this response session. This presentation would clarify most of the uncertainties concerning Eskom that Members had expressed.
In respect of ‘economic losses,’ there was a slide which indicated that an overall R6.4 billion impact had been experienced within the Transnet domain. The impact of economic loss on each department and the various facilities in KwaZulu-Natal needed to be evaluated. After this evaluation, the conclusion could be made on the economic loss by holistically evaluating the departments, facilities and other categories of economic activity.
Mitigation would have a wider meaning, in preparing for the possible impact of climate change on all the facilities. This wider meaning of mitigation would take climate change factors into account. Climate change is likely to continue well into the future. There was a need to secure infrastructure by evaluating the possible impact climate change had on the various facilities. Factors relating to climate change would be considered while rebuilding the infrastructure.
The other questions would be addressed by the CEO of Transnet and other important Transnet officials. Mr Monde Bala, Eskom's Group Executive: Distribution Division, would make a small presentation once the questions had been answered.
Mr Rudzani Ligege, Managing Executive: Transnet Freight Rail, said he would respond to the issue of improvements and mitigation. He said that the rainfall which led to the disaster floods had been the worst rainfall experienced by Transnet. The network of TFR had not been built to handle the degree of flooding which occurred. These floods were extreme. TFR had now implemented weather resilient infrastructure -- for instance, by increasing the number of culverts. Initially, when the railway networks were built many years ago, they had been in isolated areas that people did not inhabit. Presently, residents and communities occupy spaces around railway lines. This compromised the drainage system. The water should be flowing away from the railway network, but because of the residents, it was flowing into the network and compromising its function.
TFR was conducting a number of studies on hydrology. This was being investigated to see how redesigning needed to be structured and to prepare for future disaster weather patterns. Transnet had been working closely with the municipality and the Department of Human Settlements to relocate people who lived too close to the railway networks. The area of Durban and Cato Ridge, including many other areas in KwaZulu-Natal, were densely populated. Houses were being built very close to the railway networks, which compromised the structure. The municipality was assisting the Department to ensure that the infrastructure would not be heavily impacted. The network had winding railroad tracks from Durban into Cato Ridge. Thoughts were being put into building bridges that went straight into these areas, instead of the winding routes. TFR wanted to redesign the entire network, especially the Durban and Cato Ridge area. This redesigning would take into consideration building infrastructure that was climate resilient. The current wire material being used in TFR construction is copper wire. Tiger wire was also used, a protective material not prone to theft.
Mr Moshe Motlohi, Durban Port, Transnet National Ports Authority, emphasised the points contained in slide 12. The floods struck when the board developed master plans to introduce new facilities. As a matter of urgency, finalisation had been made to construct buildings with climate change resilient infrastructure. There were thoughts on collaborating with the CSIR to monitor weather patterns within the next 20 years and gain insight on developing the ports. The weakest design of the ports was there was one access point. This would be expanded, and a second route could be introduced once the canals had been taken out. When the canals were replaced, they would be six metres wide to take a greater volume of water. This would protect and shield businesses in the Durban South Basin from disaster floods.
Transnet was working with the municipality to discuss a coalition, and to work with the communities and businesses around the port to ensure the crisis was being dealt with. It was partnering with businesses to evaluate how the communities were handling trash. The debris ending up in the port indicated that there was no awareness of how the environment should be treated. Transnet was working with many businesses around the port and the city to create environmental awareness when disposing waste. The countries in the East prone to severe weather patterns were being studied to determine which material should be used while rebuilding, to improve and lower the impact of severe weather patterns.
Ms Derby said that the right of first refusal was being given to the municipality not only for the Lodge, but also for the hostels. This issue was not only in eThekwini -- there was a range of municipalities where Transnet had hostels. Transnet had worked hard to hand over ownership of the hostels to the municipalities and government. The mandate of the Department of Human Settlements was not the mandate of Transnet. The reason for the municipality's resistance to taking up ownership was unknown. Whenever Transnet approached the municipality, they would ask for a three-year budget for them to continue running the hostels. This request was not feasible for Transnet. Hopefully, an agreement will be reached this time around, to transfer the hostels and give the municipality the option to acquire Montclaire Lodge. Transnet's houses were mainly occupied and sold to its employees, giving them the right of first refusal. The houses were valued in a way that was beneficial to Transnet employees. Commercial property was being sold at market value, however. Even in residences not occupied by Transnet staff, occupants were given the right of first refusal to buy the property. People were not being evicted. This right of first refusal was even being given to tenants who had outstanding payments, or had not paid in years.
Minister Gordhan said the next presentation would give the Committee insight into how Eskom had contributed to communities in aid of the disaster floods.
Ms Agnes Mlambo, General Manager: Eskom, said the utility had not been harshly affected by the floods because most of its supply areas were on the outskirts of eThekwini. The impact of the flooding was largely within the eThekwini municipality. There had been isolated cases involving Eskom customers on the south and north coast. One switching station on the south coast was affected but was back on load. The impact on the networks was caused by wood pole structures falling due to the ground being soaked. There had been delayed restoration of supply due to access issues.
Eskom was currently assisting municipalities with various activities:
- Ugu municipality: water and sanitation pump stations had been assessed to be removed from the load shedding schedules due to the criticality of the infrastructure. The assessment was done, and the stations that could be accommodated were specifically St Helens Rock 3MVA station.
- Ray Nyokeni municipality: Eskom technicians assisted the municipality with the fault-finding and repairs to the various cable faults experienced.
- Illembe municipality: Eskom engineers assisted with assessing damage to two wastewater plants impacted in Stanger and Sundumbili.
eThekwini electricity could not load-shed due to their load-shedding system not being functional, as a number of their networks had been off. Assistance was given to them during this time. Eskom was also getting resources authorised to assist eThekwini electricity to reduce the backlog of low voltage (LV) faults still to be repaired. The proposed date for resumption of normal operation was July 2023, but continuous amendments would be done, based on the progress of repairs.
(See presentation for details)
There were no questions during this session from Members, but there had been a question from Ms Lesoma as to whether cables had been exposed when the canals were disrupted due to the floods.
Ms Mlambo confirmed that the cables were exposed, but they were mainly the eThekwini cables. The sub-station supplying Toyota was also submerged in water. Priority within the system was cable repairs, because they were exposed, especially those supplying the water supply facilities. Currently, those cables are working well.
Chairperson Nyambi thanked the Minister and his team. In two weeks, the Committee would be in KwaZulu-Natal on the ground. It was confirmed that Mr Moshe had been on the ground with the Committee. The Committee was able to relate to the presentation.
Minister's closing remarks
Minister Gordhan said that as a country, they could be very proud of the efforts to ensure that a key hub of commercial activity had been restored to functionality. The key points were not to rebuild the old, but to consider the new factors. This was where cooperation from the municipality, the province and other national departments would be crucial moving forward. The Durban South Basin was a critical industrial area for the country. It was important to gain insight from the business constituency while redesigning and repairing. The insight from the business constituency would make an important contribution to ensuring that businesses continue to operate within KwaZulu-Natal and contribute to job creation and economic growth. The Department looked forward to the visit from the Committee in KwaZulu-Natal.
Chairperson Frolick thanked the Minister for his remarks and “hands-on” approach to dealing with the impact of the floods in KwaZulu-Natal.
Flood relief efforts in the Eastern Cape
Chairperson Frolick said Mr Oscar Mabuyane, Premier of the Eastern Cape, was on the platform. In the Committee’s previous engagement, he could not attend due to health reasons, and the MEC of CoGTA had therefore attended on his behalf. The Premier would therefore be given an opportunity to speak today. He had been patiently following the proceedings. He was welcomed to make comments on behalf of the provincial government from the Eastern Cape as far as the relief and assistance from national government was concerned. He was also encouraged to speak on the progress report.
Mr Mabuyane said the Eastern Cape could attest to the various remarks made, particularly those by the Department of Social Development and the Department of Transport. The reports from these departments truly reflected the experience of the Eastern Cape. A lot still needed to be done in coordinating work through the District Development Model. There were gaps in certain processes. Money was being transferred from the national government as part of the disaster relief intervention directly to the municipalities, without the knowledge of the provinces. The coordination between government, provinces and municipalities needed to be strengthened and integrated to ensure equality.
The Eastern Cape had submitted approximately R2 billion to assess the damage caused by the floods. Most of all, the floods hit the rural roads hard. The Eastern Cape was a rural province with many rural roads. These roads were important, and provided access to essential services like hospitals, clinics and schools. The Department had mentioned a R1.3 billion need instead of the R2 billion when they had made their technical assessment. However, the R2 billion was needed to effectively deal with the rural roads' damage.
The interventions from the DSBD could be used to change the socio-economic issues within the Eastern Cape. A recent report showed that the Eastern Cape had received only 1% of the support for SMMEs. There had been a discussion with the Minister to arrange a meeting to discuss this issue, to ensure that SMMEs within the Eastern Cape had access to support. Government could create a conducive economic environment only with SMMEs on board. SMMEs were important because they created job opportunities.
There were huge challenges of unemployment, high poverty levels and under-development within the province. In addressing the disaster, infrastructure development would help the province improve its road networks and create a conducive environment, particularly for small businesses.
The Premier was working closely with national government. Improvement was needed at the coordination level. Municipalities had confirmed that disaster relief funding had been flowing in. It was odd, however, that the Department of Transport would not cover the damage caused by the December-January floods. This period formed part of the rainy season the province had experienced. The construction of bridges was noted. This winter period needed to be used for as much rebuilding as possible, because the spring season was particularly rainy in the eastern parts of the province, and this was where the disaster had made the most impact.
Chairperson's concluding remarks
Chairperson Frolick said the Committee would contact the Premier’s office or the office of the MEC if it had any specific questions regarding the progress made. It had been refreshing to hear that there was progress in certain areas.
Tomorrow, the Committee would receive a briefing from the Minister of Finance and the Minister in the Presidency responsible for performance, monitoring and evaluation, as well as the Minister of COGTA. Those presentations were equally important, and the input from the various departments and entities today had set the scene for the Committee to meaningfully engage with the relevant Ministers tomorrow.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Transnet: Impact of KZN Floods To Transnet Soc Ltd Infrastructure
- DPE: Recovery of Transnet Infrastructure From Kzn Floods
- DPE: Eskom Status report on KZN Floods
- DPME: Flood Disaster Relief & Recovery Briefing
- SEDA: Flood Relief Programme Update
- DSD Presentation
- DOT: Government Flood Disaster Relief Methods
Frolick, Mr CT
Nyambi, Mr AJ
Bara, Mr M R
Bebee, Ms LC
Brauteseth, Mr TJ
Chikunga, Ms LS
Direko, Ms DR
Dlamini, Mr SM
Dodovu, Mr TSC
Du Toit, Mr SF
Gordhan, Mr PJ
Lesoma, Ms RMM
Mangcu, Mr LN
Mashego Mr MR
Mbinqo-Gigaba, Ms BP
Mente, Ms NV
Mkhaliphi, Ms HO
Rayi, Mr M
Shaikh, Ms S
Zandamela, Mr S
Zulu, Ms LD
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