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PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
25 September 2001
DISASTER MANAGEMENT BILL: DELIBERATIONS
Chairpersons: Mr BN Solo and Mr Y Carrim
Documents handed out:
Disaster Management Bill [B58 – 2001]
Summary of Concerns with respect to the Disaster Management Bill
The meeting was a continuation of the discussion on the Summary of Concerns with respect to the Disaster Management Bill, compiled by Professor E Halloway and Mr Chris Sibanyoni. The document is comprised of different submissions from various organisations and individuals. The document has raised some important concerns and some were agreed to and some rejected by the committee.
The Department of Provincial and Local Government was represented by Mr Buys and Dr P Bouwer and they were joined by Professor Halloway.
This clause deals with disaster management professions.
In one submission, by Sharpe, it is argued that it is not clear what the department means by the disaster management profession because at present there is no disaster management profession in South Africa.
Mr D Dlali (ANC) suggested that they should focus on specific professions rather than disaster management profession in general.
Mr L Buys (Department) referred to other professions that require one to register before practising in it. But disaster management is not that type of profession and does not require people to be registered.
Mr B Solo (ANC) agreed that the disaster management profession should be kept broad because there are people who are involved in disaster management but are not recognised. These people sometimes are development workers and are involved in disaster management occurrences and they should fall in the category of disaster management profession.
Mr P Smith (IFP) suggested that the phrase in 7(1)(e)(vii) "organisations representing the disaster management professions in South Africa; be changed. He suggested that "the" be removed because it suggested that there is a preexisting body dealing with disaster management. He suggested inserting "that" so as to leave it open. The proposal was accepted.
In the document Sharpe argues that "international organisations" cannot be classified as NGOs.
Mr Buys disagreed, arguing that even if it is a United Nations agency, the fact remains it is an NGO. He does not think it is necessary to split the definition of an NGO.
Prof. Halloway intervened that UN agencies would not view themselves as NGOs, and she thought this definition could be broken down. She suggested the phrase "other relevant NGOs and international organisations".
Dr P Bouwer (department) said apparently it is the UN that creates a problem here.
He proposed using "other relevant non-governmental and international organisations and relief agencies". It was not clear whether this proposal was accepted or not.
Mr Smith suggested that there should be a national community organisation dealing with disaster management. The various interest groups should be represented in disaster management.
Dr Bouwer referred Mr Smith to 7(1)(e) where it refers to "the representatives of other disaster management role players designated by the Minister…" This is not an exclusive list but the idea is to give the Minister guidelines as to who to include and who not to include. The intention is not to formulate an exhaustive list. Once they start to include all the other interests, they might end up formulating an exhaustive list which might create other problems as well.
Mr Smith said he does not know what the "institutions of higher education" have to do with disaster management.
Mr Buys replied that institutions of higher education are included particularly because of their knowledge. He said there was a complaint earlier that institutions of higher education are not recognised although they have technical and research expertise that they can bring along.
Mr Solo agreed that institutions of higher learning should not be marginalised and the process should be open for them to participate as well.
Mr Carrim said he does not have a problem with the disaster management centre being located in the office of the President, in fact that is where it is supposed to be. But he pointed out that the office of the Presidency is so overburdened that it seems practically impossible to have the centre there.
Mr Smith suggested that the discretion to delegate it to a line function of his Minister or any Ministry be given to the President. As legislatures they have signalled where it should be, now they have to leave it to the executive to place it where it sees fit.
Mr Carrim said they should leave it as it is as of now until he meets with the Executive to discuss the practicalities of where the Bill should be allocated.
Dr Bouwer warned that this Centre Bill is not placed in the Presidency, at the moment it is completely open. Once it becomes an Act the department will make presentations to the President regarding the allocation of this centre.
Mr Buys said the reason why the centre has been put in the office of the Presidency is because the office of the President is the highest office of the country, and for no other reason.
Mr Carrim added that the reason some people would like it there is because of the political clout that the Presidency has. He said if the centre was put in the Ministry of Provincial and Local government for example, it would be difficult for him to push other Ministries, but if it is the Presidency there is that political clout. And also this Bill is a multi-disciplinary approach because it cuts across departments.
Mr A Lyle (ANC) said the phrase in the Bill "provincial and municipal disaster management centre, by agreement with that centre", assumed that the centre is separate from the municipality. And therefore the national centre has powers to give instructions directly to the municipal disaster management centre. He suggested that the issuing of instructions should be done through the Minister’s office not from the centres because it is very important to look at power relations here.
Mr P Smith suggested that the Minister be put at the top and the provinces and municipalities at the other end of the equation so that all three are involved.
Mr Solo said this is very complicated because the question that arises is who is going to take responsibility eventually. Who will receive instructions and how are those instructions going to be communicated to have the desired impact?
Mr Carrim suggested that they should mandate the department to look at this section and take the suggestions that Smith and Lyle’s have made into account.
Ms Botha said the National Centre must make recommendations on whether, in the event of a national disaster, on whether a (national) state of disaster should be declared in terms of section 27.
Dr Bouwer said the distinction between a national disaster and a state of disaster was discussed earlier. If there is a national state of disaster certain powers are triggered and the same applies to a state of disaster. That is why the department needs a framework that will enable it to deal with any disaster.
Mr Smith asked why is it said that the centre must make funds available for disaster management, is it the role of the centre to do that? The availability of funds is the responsibility of the Division of Revenue Act not the National Centre.
Mr Buys said the reality is that the Division of the Revenue Act will be applied out of inputs from the department and the National Centre in terms of disaster management.
Prof. Halloway recommended that if they would be profiling risk reduction throughout or in selected places they should also include risk reduction. For instance clause 15(1)(a) states that the "National Centre must specialise in issues concerning disasters and disaster management". She suggested that ‘risk reduction’ must be added in there.
Secondly, in clause 15(1)(b) "the centre must monitor progress with post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation"; she suggested that the department should add ‘pre-disaster’ to make it consistent.
Mr Buys agreed that Prof Halloway’s point is correct, but quickly pointed out that from the definition of disaster management it is stated clearly that disaster management is about prevention, reduction etc. If they need to emphasise the risk reduction part, they need to be consistent in that but they must not take risk reduction out of disaster management.
Mr Smith argued that the responsibility in 15(1)(f) is too huge and onerous for the National Centre. It may not be possible for the department to do all those things.
Mr Buys replied that certainly they would not be able to do all those duties at the moment. He suggested changing ‘must’ to ‘may’.
Mr Mshudulu argued that there should be specific and general duties otherwise this will create problems when the structures are in place.
Mr Sibanyoni said he and Prof. Halloway thought that ‘utilisation’ in 15(1)(g) is not a proper word, they would rather use ‘mobilisation’. He suggested that the clause should read as follows; "must promote the recruitment, training and mobilisation of volunteers to participate in disaster management".
Dr Bouwer tried to explain that ‘utilisation’ in this sense implies whether are they going to use volunteers or not. He said he understands ‘mobilisation’ as forcing or commanding people to do something.
Mr Smith said he thought ANC members would prefer the word "deployment" because it is commonly used amongst its ranks.
Dr Bouwer argued that if the committee wants to use ‘mobilisation’ it must be in addition to ‘utilisation’.
Mr G Crome (department) argued that the word mobilisation contains an element of commandeering whereas they are talking of volunteers. He would rather prefer utilisation and deployment.
Mr Sibanyoni said they oppose the word utilisation because they believe the word implies takes people as tools and not as human beings.
Rev Goosen (ANC) thought that utilisation refers to people’s capabilities, the ability to do something that someone else cannot do and he thought this word is fitting.
The committee could not reach any consensus on which word would be appropriate in that paragraph.
Mr Solo wanted to know why in all of clause 15 "must" is used and suddenly in 15(1)(I) they used "may". What is the justification of that?
Dr Bouwer replied that this is an empowering clause, it just allows the centre also to assist in the implementation of that particular legislation. He reminded the committee that clause 2(1)(b) refers to legislation administered by other departments that has been identified by the Minister. The provision of clause 2(1)(b) falls outside the scope of the National Center and the department’s responsibility.
Mr Carrim wanted to know whether the suggestion that the department must promote research into all aspects of disaster management, especially prevention and mitigation, should not that be the responsibility of the National Centre?
Mr Buys replied that they have not yet dealt with research as a concept, only in the context of looking at information gathering. Research is not covered under the general duties.
Clause 16 (2)
In his submission Sharpe also argued that the Act should make provision for the government to task NGOs such as the SA Red Cross Society with taking charge of the relief process.
Mr Carrim thought this suggestion was very weak and the Department did not have to respond.
Mr Smith argued that the Red Cross takes charge of relief processes, the suggestion may be weak now but could be considered elsewhere in the Bill at a later stage. For instance the role of volunteers, NGOs etc in relief processes. Mr Carrim pointed out that this was already in the Bill.
Dr Bouwer referred to clause 16(2)(b) which makes it clear: "NGOs involved in disaster management" and also 16(2)(c), which refers to "private sector organisations with specialised equipment, skills or knowledge relevant to disaster management’. Therefore he did not see any point of adding those concerns.
Sharpe suggested that there should be a new clause 16(4) but Mr Carrim rejected it as too long. Prof. Halloway agreed that it is too long but it is very important because it is a coin of cooperation between various institutions. These are clusters of resources and organisations that should be engaged, namely, universities, technikons and relevant research institutions in South Africa.
Dr Bouwer said they have proposed in clause 6(f) that reference to technical experts should be included in that wording. They have also suggested that the National Centre should assist educational research programs. So in that sense the National Centre is obliged to support educational research programs.
Ms Borman agreed that there is great value in engaging these institutions, if the National Centre goes out and does it by themselves, why can they not engage these people from these institutions who already have this information and expertise?
The meeting was adjourned
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