Disaster Management Bill: deliberations

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

10 October 2001
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


10 October 2001

Chairperson: Mr Y Carrim

Documents handed out:
Disaster Management Bill [B 58 - 2001]
Disaster Management Bill Amendments (Stage 3)
Municipal Demarcation Board - Disaster Centre (See Appendix)

The Committee continued deliberations on the Disaster Management Bill. The chairperson of the Municipal Demarcation Board briefed the Committee on the creation of a single Disaster Management Centre. This would facilitate the relationship between provinces and municipalities with the national centre. The Centre would be national in scope with departments, regional structures and institutes of expertise covering the whole country.

The advisor from the Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihood Programme suggested that the centre should assume the form of a cross-functional structure where there would be sharing of expertise from the different stakeholders.

The Committee supported the establishment of a National Centre to allow for accountability rather than a cross-functional structure.

Disaster Management Bill Deliberations
Chapter 3 - National Disaster Management
Annual reports
Clause 24(c)
The issue of fire and small disasters was discussed. Mr P Smith felt that the question of small disasters should be incorporated in this paragraph.

Preparation of disaster management plans
Clause 25
Mr Y Carrim (ANC) argued that in this clause it is said that each organ of state must meet specific requirements such as 'preparing a disaster management plan'. Mr Khompela (ANC) added that it should be stipulated if an organ of state fails to comply with the disaster management plans something should be done.

Mr Van Deventer said if a community finds itself in a serious disaster situation, they must be allowed to take initiative without waiting for authorities to give them a go ahead.

Mr Carrim said what Mr Van Deventer is suggesting is important but the problem is that the public does not have the ability to deal with disaster management.

Chapter 4 - Provincial Disaster Management
Part 1: Provincial policy framework
Clause 28
Mr Carrim commented that there is a framework for provinces and the local level, but there is no national disaster framework. The reason is that provincial and local patterns of disaster management cover the national disasters as well. There is no need for a national framework.

Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) said all the patterns are addressed by the provincial and local framework. The national government has to create an environment for the provincial and local to take an initiative and implement plans on the ground.

Dr Bouwer said that the national sphere has an effective structure of authorities. For instance coordination is already in the national framework, so the national is guided by the provincial and local framework.

Mr Van Deventeradded that there is a difference between the goals of the national and provincial or local sphere. However there should be an arrangement for local and provincial spheres to respond swiftly to disasters without waiting for a response from the National Centre.

Mr Carrim replied that there is an arrangement in terms of the definition of national state of disaster and other disasters. It is explained clearly when a disaster is national and when is it regarded as local or provincial. He said there are certain disasters that occur in the provinces but because of their nature there are regarded as national disasters.

Mr Buys gave an example of a plane crash which could be regarded as a national disasaster whereas it occurs in a province.

Mr C Sibanyoni asked what measures are there for disaster management in special events?

Dr Bouwer replied that in this case the organizer of a special event should be compelled to have a disaster management officer on duty at the location of the special event.

Part 2: Provincial Disaster Management Centres
Clause 29
In this clause the Committee discussed the issue of whether there should be a Disaster Structure or Disaster Centre.

Dr Holloway's Presentation
Dr. Holloway, the advisor from the Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihood Programme, UCT presented. advantages and disadvantages of having centers or having structures. She introduced the cross-functional approach to disaster management, especially the involvement of civil society and academics.




Clear lines of command and control in times of emergency

May discourage interdisciplinary cooperation, shared responsibilities.

Clear lines of authority

Less developmentally oriented

Provides stature/Drile for the held sector

Requires new structures/capacities to the people

Provides a clear physical institutional focus

More expensive




Builds on existing services, encourages linkages

Risk of less clear leadership/accountability

Encourages shared responsibility

Vaguer lines of authority in times of disaster (could be)

Recognition that the field is interdisciplinary/greater development potential - cheaper

Diffuse and difficult to monitor

Dr M Sutcliffe's Presentation
Dr Sutcliffe, the chairperson of the Municipal Demarcation Board presented the advantages of a single Disaster Management Centre.He argued that the existence of three levels of centres would create problems in terms of budgeting. He proposed an integrated national budget, standardisation of methodology, which could not be accomplished if there are have three levels of centres. He suggested the Centre should be national in scope with departments and regional structures/centres and institutes of expertise covering the whole country.

Mr Smith asked about the extent to which the Bill provide for the structure, he said he would prefer a unilinear line function where there is clear command.

Ms Borman supported the idea of a clear command, she added that there should be an existing centre were all the instructions will come from.

Mr J Kgarimetsa also preferred a centre than a structure because these are emergency cases. The arrangement of a structure is very developmental and would need elected individuals for positions.

Dr Bouwer said the Bill is very clear about the function of the centre. He said Centre deals with specific lines of command. Dr. Holloway is proposing a cross-functional approach but the problem is the question of accountability, who will do what?

Mr Carrim suggested that it possible to accommodate both Dr. Holloway and Dr Sutcliffe's suggestions because as they are complimentary.

Ms Borman asked if this would this actually work in a district municipality?

Mr Buys said there is a specific reason for the department not going to specific political structure. Community participation cannot be a problem in the provincial and local level. But there is a problem with involving everybody because there are financial obligations to be taken into account. If for instance there is a meeting of disaster management in Pretoria it would be difficult for all stakeholders to be involved at the national level. He argued that community participation as suggested by Dr. Holloway could be possible at the local level.

Mr Carrim said this would need to be implemented at provincial and local level first.

Ms Borman said this would be more effective on local level but not even at provincial level because at local level organisation was easier.

Mr Lyle asked why the provincial disaster management centre forms part of, and functions within, a department designated by the Premier?

Dr Bouwer said the National and Provincial portfolio Committees are not structured in the same way. The Premier oversees functions of departments at provincial level.

The meeting was adjourned.

In dealing with the disaster center/structure matter there appear to be at least the following problems:
· The idea of a Disaster Centre versus Disaster Structures has become contentious.
· There is a need for an integrated national budget, standardization of methodology, etc. which is not accomplished if you have three levels of centers.
· The role of provinces and municipalities becomes difficult to understand in their relation to the national center.
· Possibly confusing linkages between the National Centre and other structures which could delay effective implementation~
· There is confusion over how the Cross Boundary municipalities fit into the provincial centers/structures.
· The role of agencies of expertise and implementation are not included in the present definitions because it is thought through geographically. For example, would a University of Cape Town department dealing with disaster management issues be seen as part of the provincial center/structure or the national one?
· Given that the classification of disaster as national or provincial or local is dependent in part on the centers, there is the potential for quite different norms to be applied across the country in such classification programmes, with the potential for unfounded mandates.

A Solution:
In order to avoid these problems I believe that it would be easiest to simply create a single Disaster Management Centre:
· This Centre would be national in scope (not called a national center), with departments and regional structures/centers and institutes of expertise covering the whole country.
· The Centre would form part of a department of state with a single budget, but would be accountable in the first instance to the Inter-governmental committee on disaster management. This is important because while large municipalities have budgets for disaster management, smaller municipalities don't and this could be covered by the national centre.
· The Inter-governmental committee would approve the mandate, operational protocols and delegation authorities of the Centre. The operational protocols would be where the concerns of provinces and locals could be accommodated to ensure they are properly consulted before decisions are taken.
· The matters which require standardization would then be part of a nation-wide system and the resources (such as expertise, research, etc.) could easily be shared across the country. A Centre studying veld fires at the University of Stellenbosch, for example, then becomes a centre of expertise for the whole country and not just the Western Cape.

A number of clauses would then need to be changed including:

· Deleting the word "National" in the chapter on National Centre.
· Incorporating additional matters dealt with under the sections on provincial/local management centers into the Chapter on the Disaster Management Centre.
· Addition: 8(3) The Centre is accountable to the Inter-Governmental Committee on Disaster Management.
· A set of consequential changes to create this single centre with powers of delegation (such as to MECsJMayor&IDepartments/etc. to address specific matters).

Dr. Michael 0. Sutcliffe


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