Deliberations on Disaster Management Bill

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

13 September 2001
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Meeting report

PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
14 September 2001
DELIBERATIONS ON THE DISASTER MANAGEMENT BILL

Chairperson: Mr BM Solo

Documents handed out:
Disaster Management Bill [B58 – 2001]
Summary of Concerns with respect to the Disaster Management Bill

SUMMARY
There was a discussion on general concerns which the committee and the legal team had with the Bill. Some of the issues captured in the Summary of Concerns document have already been raised by the committee. Those sections that were not identified by the committee would be discussed in a next meeting. The importance of incorporating indigenous knowledge and systems into the Bill was discussed and was noted by the Department.

MINUTES
Presentation by Professor E Halloway
Prof. Halloway pointed out the general concerns that the committee and the legal team need to examine in the Bill. Amongst issues mentioned in the summary report was the definition of disaster, the financial implications of the Bill, the role of traditional leaders and indigenous knowledge, to mention but a few. The Summary of Concerns (Summary) dealt with all the inputs from the different organisations that have made submissions to the committee.

DISCUSSION
The chairperson said there is a comment in the Summary which says that disaster management is being politicised. He did not think that this comment was constructive.

Mr Mshudulu (ANC) asked how prepared the Department of Provincial and Local Government is in responding to the key points that have been identified in the document.

Dr P Bouwer (Department) responded that the committee has already identified some of the issues captured in the document, such as the issue of community participation, traditional leaders and so on, some of the points were included following inputs from the committee. The State Law Advisors are presently addressing other concerns.

Mr Buys (Department) said he believed that the Bill really broadens the thinking in terms of policy. It is formulated in such a way that it does not neglect other aspects of disaster.

Mr Mshudulu said the committee should agree that the department prepares a consolidated report that would be made available as soon as possible.

Mr S Phohlela (ANC) said he would like to see the involvement of financial institutions and the private sector in disaster management. He said their role and importance is not outlined in the Bill.

Mr A Lyle (ANC) said that there are certain important sections from the old Bill which are not included in the new one. He wanted to know whether or not the sections were omitted deliberately, or whether those sections will be included in the final version of the Bill.

Dr Bouwer appeared not to be aware of that, but admitted that this might be a mistake and they are going to look at it and those sections would be included.

Mr Mshudulu wanted the committee to give an undertaking that there would be consultation with other stakeholders like the private sector and NGOs. He said it is important that the role of other stakeholders should be highlighted.

Prof. Halloway emphasized the importance of looking at indigenous knowledge and systems. She made an example of a community they met in one rural area, they were told that when a draught is going to occur, the eagles fly lower and when rain is expected they fly higher. She said this is the type of indigenous knowledge needed in order to put preventative measures in place.

Ms C Lobe (ANC) suggested that the issue of indigenous knowledge should be incorporated in clause 48 because she believed that indigenous knowledge and systems could be utilized in the municipalities.

The chairperson noted that the suggestion made by Ms Lobe should be taken seriously.

Dr Bouwer replied that he thought the issue of indigenous knowledge and systems was already addressed in clause 17 under the heading "Disaster Management Information System". He argued that clause 17(2)(c) says something about "prevention and mitigation" and that could be seen as dealing directly with the issue of indigenous knowledge and systems.

Ms Lobe insisted that this issue of indigenous systems should be included in clause 48 because clause 17 is not clear enough in dealing with it. She said clause 48(a) states clearly that each municipality must prepare a disaster management plan for its area according to the circumstances prevailing in the area. She added that each area has its own beliefs and superstitions and that should be taken into account. Dr Bouwer replied that they would take note of that.

In conclusion the chairperson suggested that they should look at ways of involving other parliamentary committees. He said the department should contact other departments such Environmental Affairs.

The meeting was adjourned.

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