The Joint Ad-Hoc Committee considered and adopted its report on the damage caused by the floods in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and North West provinces, and the government’s subsequent relief, as well as, recovery efforts.
Members were disappointed by the government’s response to the flood disasters, as several commitments remained unfulfilled, contrary to the public’s expectations. The Committee urged that the report be tabled before both Houses as soon as possible as this would ensure that assistance is finally provided to the affected communities, and that trust in the government is improved.
The proposal to seek an extension of the Committee would be considered and conveyed to the responsible body.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi apologised for the late start to the meeting. Thereafter, he indicated that the Committee was meeting to adopt its final report on Flood Disaster, Relief and Recovery in the Eastern Cape (EC), KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), and the North West (NW).
The Committee Secretary indicated that there were no apologies submitted. Subsequently she informed Members that between the 25th and 27th of October 2022, both her, the Committee support staff and Co-Chairpersons, attended the Council for Geoscience Summit in KZN. Both Chairpersons then conducted unannounced oversight visits at the damaged section of the N2 road, Mount View Shelter and a site in Umdloti.
She mentioned that during the deliberations on the draft report, the Committee resolved that it would request progress reports from all three provinces. It had since received reports from the EC and KZN.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi clarified that the Committee would not go through the whole report, rather, it would only attend to the proposed amendments it made in the previous meeting.
Consideration and adoption of the Flood Disaster Relief and Recover
Mr Andile Sokomani, Committee Researcher, took the Committee through its amendments to the draft report.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi was pleased that the report adequately reflected the Committee’s recommendations.
Ms M Lesoma (ANC) began by expressing her appreciation for the support staff’s efforts in assisting with the compilation of the report. Following that, she thanked the Co-Chairpersons for conducting their unannounced visits in KZN and asked whether the section of the N2 road they visited was repaired by the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) or the private sector.
After noting that minimal progress had been in assisting the peoples and families affected by the floods, she proposed that once the final report is tabled, Members should implore the relevant Select and Portfolio Committees to continue the oversight efforts on how the appropriated funds are utilised.
All in all, she was pleased with the report, and moved for its adoption.
Mr T Brauteseth (DA) was generally satisfied with the report, however, he had certain reservations that he wanted to place on record. One, he noted that the report did not reflect the EThekwini’s poor response to the weather warnings, particularly those made by the Western Cape (WC) Disaster Management Centre (DMC), and the fact that the municipality had rejected the WC DMC’s offer to provide assistance. The WC DMC informed Members that had the municipality agreed to its offer, it would have been able to send teams on the ground a week before. To gain further knowledge on this matter and other technical issues, the Committee should have visited the WC DMC.
Like other Members, he too was pleased by the announcement that the Co-Chairpersons had conducted an oversight visit in three sites within KZN. Related to this, he informed Members that he had received communication from SANRAL, which highlighted that due to issues with the procurement processes, a new tender had to be re-issued, meaning that work to repair the N2 at Adams Road was only anticipated to begin in January 2023 and conclude in March of the same year. This meant that the road would be repaired after eleven months. He then asked if this response should be included in the report. If not, he would forward it to the Committee.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi said that it would not be necessary for the Committee to include that in its report, as several of the agencies and departments have provided timelines which they have not met.
Mr S Du Toit (FF+ Free State) told Members that during his presentation of the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill to the NW Legislature, the previous day, he highlighted that an additional R111 million was added to the infrastructure to repair the damage on the roads. In response, the Committee in the Legislature said that it would try and obtain consent from the National Treasury for it to utilise the R54.9 million that was originally meant to construct temporary housing, for other matters, he added.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi mentioned that no work had been done to implement the recovery efforts in the NW province.
Mr M Hlengwa (IFP) thanked the support staff for drafting a comprehensive report.
After that, he asked if it were possible if the Committee could apply for an extension, so that it would be able to conclude certain issues it has observed during the process. He feared that the momentum created by Members would be lost if they were to approach other Committee’s to continue with their oversight tasks. Furthermore, he noted that there had been little movement in the government’s response to the disaster.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi said that the Committee would consider Mr Hlengwa’s proposal.
Ms S Luthuli (EFF, KZN) appreciated the Co-Chairpersons’ decision to conduct the oversight visits in KZN unannounced because it did not allow for the officials to prepare and create the impression that work had been done. Thereafter, she moved to second Mr Hlengwa’s proposal.
Mr M Bara (DA, Gauteng) reminded Members that many of the communities, affected by the flood disasters, they had interacted with continued to voice the same challenges relating to the government’s response. He also supported Mr Hlengwa’s proposal.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi applauded Members for working across party lines to tackle the issues related to the flood disasters.
Mr Brauteseth asked if a date had been set for the debate on the report.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi explained that this would be communicated at a later stage.
Continuing on his previous remarks, he indicated that the Committee learned many lessons from the process but at the same time, it remained disappointed by the government’s minimal progress in providing recovery to those affected.
Co-Chairperson Frolick also thanked the Committee support staff for the drafting of the report.
After doing so, he proposed that Members take the report to their respective Chief Whips, who would then deliberate on it in their respective forum.
Regarding the proposal to extend the Committee’s mandate, he explained that an Ad-Hoc Committee has a specific timeframe and a mandate. From time to time, such a Committee does refer matters to other Committees or institutions, for their completion. Moreover, he stressed that it was never the intention of the Committee to take over the work of all the other line-functional Committees.
One advantage of an Ad-Hoc Committee was that it is not restricted to a particular issue and can work across the three spheres of government. Nonetheless, he committed to, along with Co-Chairperson Nyambi, conveying the proposal to the responsible body.
Touching on the report, he agreed with the recommendation that the Committee should attend to the issues affecting Mountain View Shelter, irrespective if it is denied an extension.
Explaining the rationale for the unannounced oversight visits, he mentioned that he and Co-Chairperson Nyambi conducted the visits because they did not solely want to rely on the information that is given by the agencies and departments, regarding the progress made.
On the WC DMC, he indicated that no resolution was taken by the Committee for it to engage the DMC’s in all three provinces, and rather, it would only do so with the National DMC. During those engagements, the National DMC did not mention what the WC DMC reported on.
Referring to the proposal in the report for the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to consider establishing a Climate Change Steering Committee, similar to the National Assembly, he requested, that the wording be amended, as no such Committee has been established yet. Before this can be done, the NCOP must first adopt the House Resolution. The matter, including the NCOP’s proposals regarding how it should be represented on the Steering Committee, was discussed in the Chief Whips Forum, the prior day, he noted.
Recognising that most of the damage was done in the EThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, and the personal concerns that Members have of their respective constituencies, he maintained that the Committee was given a mandate to focus on areas affected within all three provinces.
Like other Members, he was left disappointed by the government’s response to the flood disasters, as several commitments remained unfulfilled, contrary to the public’s expectations. This had not been the first disaster encountered by the government, he stressed. The only department he felt that performed up to its tasks was the Department of Public Enterprises. He reserved particular praise for Minister Pravin Gordhan, whom he said took a personal interest in ensuring that officials at the Durban Harbour arrived on time to meetings with the Committee and fulfilled their commitments on time.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi said that the report had been duly adopted, with the amendments. After the proceedings, both Chairs would look into the proposals made. Following that, he expressed support for the recommendation that the report be submitted to the respective Chief Whips.
Ms Lesoma indicated that the Co-Chairpersons would need to schedule when the report would have to be tabled in both Houses.
Mr M Mashego (ANC) said that the Committee should only pay attention to the three provinces it was mandated to look into.
Mr Brauteseth asked what the likelihood of the debate being this year or next year was, as there were several other parliamentary duties Members also had to attend to.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi clarified that due to the busy schedule, it would be difficult to call for the report to be debated in a Joint-Sitting of both Houses. However, the Committee would most likely, after the ATC (Announcements, Tabling of Committee Reports), present it to the Houses, separately, before the end of the year.
Co-Chairperson Frolick indicated that the Co-Chairpersons and the NA programming Whip were working towards tabling the report before both Houses as soon as possible. This would ensure that assistance is finally provided to the affected communities, and that trust in the government is improved.
Co-Chairperson Nyambi agreed that seeking an extension would safeguard the Committee’s credibility. He then proposed that pictures of the destruction caused by the disasters should be included in the report, so as to give those reading the report a better understanding of the severity. Thereafter, he thanked the Members for the work they have done during this period.
Co-Chairperson Frolick was pleased that Members in the Committee worked across party lines and interacted well with the communities in all three provinces. All the matters raised by the Members would be taken forward, he added.
Subsequently, he requested a mover for the adoption of the report, with the amendments agreed to.
Ms Lesoma moved to support the adoption of the report, with the amendments agreed to.
Mr Mashego seconded the mover for the adoption of the report, with the amendments agreed to.
Co-Chairperson Frolick mentioned that the report had been duly adopted as a true reflection of the Committee’s work.
The meeting was then adjourned.
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