Briefing on Disaster Management & Discussion on

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

16 February 1999
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

16 February 1999


Documents handed out:
Proposed amendments to Clause 1 of the Fifth Constitution Amendment Bill, Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Fifth Amendment Bill
Timetable for the Constitutional Affairs Committee for this parliamentary session.(Appendix 1)

The Department of Constitutional Affairs briefed the committee on Disaster Management. The committee also discussed proposed amendments to Clause 1 of the Fifth Amendment Bill.

Disaster Management
Mr. P.A. Stopforth, Chief Director of Disaster Management, briefed the committee on current Disaster Management procedures in South Africa. He gave examples oF how disasters have been handled at the national level, and how the national level works with regional and local levels. He stated that the Disaster Management section of the Department dealt with disasters on a daily basis. The main issue for the section is co-ordination of disaster management, and the relief for disaster areas in the whole of South Africa. Mr. Stopforth stated that the Disaster Management section works closely with the provinces, and they meet on a regular basis. The section has a close linkage with the Weather Bureau, and utilises this information to predict disasters. The section has a problem with reaching communities after disaster has struck. This makes the evaluation of the disaster and what aid and assistance is required difficult. Mr. Stopforth clarified what defines a disaster that requires the assistance of the Disaster Management section by giving examples of what is considered a disaster and what is not. He stated that the bus accident in Mpumalanga was not a disaster. But that generally tornadoes, heavy rainfall, severe flooding are considered disasters. When disaster strikes, the section contacts the Defence Force, the police or somebody at either regional or local level to assist. Mr. Stopforth stated that there is cooperation from all these sources.

Mr. Titus, Director General, stated that the Ministerial Commission on Disaster Management has taken several decisions on disaster management.

1. Standards for reporting on disaster management should be made.

2. If the President declares a disaster area, funds from the National Disaster Fund will be made available to that area. All areas must be treated equitably, and mechanisms for this must be created.

3. There will be monthly meetings of the Ministerial Commission where assessments on disaster management will made.

4. There are funds available for the Disaster Fund, but not enough.

5. Public representatives have a role in communities, and should have a role in disaster management as well. The details of what this role is however not spelled out in the White Paper.

Ms M Verwoerd (ANC) said that the Disaster Management section seems very bureaucratic, and assistance is not given immediately when it is actually needed. Mr. Titus stated that the section needs to evaluate a situation before it can start to assist and help. This is why it might seem slow in responding with aid. He also stated that communication is important, and that systems for this are needed to enable contact with communities. The section cannot afford this at the moment, but it is currently seeking assistance from major funders of South Africa. The national section will not interfere at regional and local level, if these levels assess matters are under control.

The Chairperson stated that Disaster Management will not be dealt with further in this Parliamentary session, but will be postponed to the next Parliament.

Fifth Constitutional Amendment Bill

The committee has discussed this bill before. The department has on request of the committee drawn up two proposals for how to deal with 'mixed bills.'

The first proposal suggests a splitting of mixed bills, while the second proposal suggests a lapsing of mixed bills.

The discussion in this meeting did not relate specifically to these two proposals. Colin Eglin (DP) wanted to have a more detailed proposal. He wanted the mixed bill to be just as detailed as the Section 75 and 76 bills. Section 76A (3) regarding 'substantially in accordance' needed to be more detailed.

The NNP wanted this type of bill to be in the Constitution, because the Joint Rules of Parliament do not enjoy the safeguard of the Constitution. This to protect the rights of the provinces.

The DP also wanted the bill to be in the Constitution.

Professor du Toit (ANC) stated that too much detail in the Constitution is not elegant.

Ms Verwoerd questioned the need for subclause 2. The DP seconded her, and argued it was redundant.

The Chairperson, Mr. Carrim, asked the DP to put their proposal on paper and have it ready by Friday.

Appendix 1: Timetable for the Constitutional Affairs Committee for this parliamentary session

1999 Programme: 1st Quarter





1.1 This is a tentative programme. The overall parliamentary programme changes constantly, and we will therefore have to adapt our programme as necessary.

1.2 Obviously, this is a short, intensive, difficult session of Parliament. Many of us have responsibilities in our other portfolio committees and in our constituencies with the voter registration and election campaign. We therefore need to make the most efficient and productive use of the limited time available.


2.1 We have 3 bills before us - the 3rd, 4th and 5th Constitutional Amendment Bills.

2.2 The bills will be dealt with in full Portfolio Committee meetings and in sub-committees, and will be debated in the House on Friday, 12th March.

2.3 The Municipal Systems Bill and the Property Tax Bill will be dealt with in the first session of the next parliament. We will however arrange for a briefing on the Municipal Systems Bill during this quarter - the tentative date is Tuesday, 23rd March.

2.4 Other bills that the Department is working on include: disaster management, repeal of Volkstadt Council, Sections 100 and 139 of the Constitution, "Cultural Commission", Amendments to the Renumeration of Office Bearers Act and the National House of Traditional Leaders Act, and the constitutional amendments arising from requests from other departments and the work of the Constitutional Review Committee. Several of these will be tabled before the end of the year.


3.1 The budget will be reviewed at meetings of the Portfolio Committee

on Tuesday 2nd and Wednesday 3rd March from 9:00 to 13:00. If necessary we will also use 9th March.

3.2 The budget debate in the House is set for Friday, 12th March.


4.1 Among the issues that the Department is processing policy on are the following: local economic development, IDPs service charges for indigent people, RSC levies, rural infrastructure, CMIP, vertical division of revenue, municipal international relations and municipal service of partnerships. Following further discussion, we will arrange an appropriate programme around this.

4.2 There are also discussion documents being processed on Section 100 and 139 of the Constitution (intervention of one sphere of government in another), the section 185 "Cultural Commission", resolutions of boundary disputes and constitutional education.

4.3 There are White Papers on IGR and Traditional Leadership pending.

4.4 A report back on the IGR study tour of India will be presented to the

Portfolio Committee. The tentative date is 16th March.


5.1 Obviously, this session is going to be quite volatile and there are many uncertainties - so our programme can only be tentative. But we should seek to fulfil as much of our programme as possible. Let us work together to ensure this.

12 February 1999




Tuesday, 16th February, 9:00 - 11:00, Good Hope Chamber

1) Constitutional Amendment Bills

2) Disaster Management

Tuesday, 23rd February, 9:00 - 11:00, Old Assembly Chamber

1) Constitutional Amendment Bills

Tuesday, 2nd March, 9:00 - 13:00, S12A

1) Budget Review

Wednesday, 3rd March, 9:00 - 13:00, PS 265

1) Budget Review

Tuesday, 9th March, 9:00 - 11:00, V226

1) Budget Review

2) Constitutional Amendment

Tuesday, 16th March, 9:00 - 11:00, M46

1) Intergovernmental relations

Wednesday, 17th March, 9:00 - 11:00, PS 265

1) Local Government: Financial Issues

2) Municipal Service Partnerships

3) Traditional Leadership

Tuesday, 23 March, 9:00 - 11:00, To follow

1) Municipals Systems Bill

Please note that the Sub-Committees of the Portfolio Committee will meet as and when necessary outside of the above times.


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