Parliament committee on KZN floods to look into climate change, relief funds spending

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Parliament is looking to hit the ground running in carrying out its oversight duties on the devastating floods that hit KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and parts of Eastern Cape as well as North-West last month.

Ad-Hoc Joint Committee on Flood Disaster Relief and Recovery convened its first meeting on Friday.

The parliamentary committee will be co-chaired by National Assembly and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) house chairpersons for committees, Cedric Frolick and Jomo Nyambi respectively.

The mandate of the committee – which will lapse in November – is to oversee the response and implementation of the relief measures by the government.

It was established after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster last month.

Oversight

During Friday’s virtual meeting, ANC MP Regina Lesoma suggested the committee is aiming to restore the public’s confidence in Parliament and will thus “go beyond and look at climate change and its impact”.

Continuing the discussion, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the setting up of the committee “was an honest attempt from Parliament to take a step in the right direction” to strengthen is oversight function.

“It’s quite clear that we have got our work cut out and to say that the situation is urgent and dire. We really need to have boots on the ground to get a first hand experience for those of us who have not been in some of the affected parts of Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal,” Hlengwa added.

Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Mohammed Hoosen commented on the R1 billion disaster relief that has been allocated by government.

ALSO READ: KZN still waiting for Treasury to cough up R1 billion flood relief funds

“If we can at some point get a breakdown of just how that R1 billion is being put together, it will give the committee an opportunity to focus on those specific areas where the funding is going,” he said.

Meanwhile, Frolick indicated that there would not be delays in conducting an oversight visit to the affected areas.

“It is envisaged that the we start our work next week already. We are now tasked, together with the support staff, to develop a proposed programme and start with a process of identifying key government departments, amongst others, that has been affected,” he said.

“The physical visit will not take place now immediately because we need to familiarise ourselves with the issues, get the necessary briefings and then go there with information at our disposal,” Frolick added.

‘Checks and balances’

On Thursday afternoon, Deputy President David Mabuza responded to questions in the NCOP.

In the proceedings, Mabuza revealed that government has developed a three phase plan to respond to the flood disaster.

The deputy president also assured MPs that government would put up measures to prevent the looting of funds meant to rebuild the affected areas.

“We would like to reiterate our commitment that all checks and balances will be put in place to ensure that there is no corruption involved in the implementation of the post-disaster recovery measures,” Mabuza said.

“As government we are determined to ensure that the efforts of recovery and rebuilding in the affected areas should proceed with the necessary speed and urgency, and are not disrupted by any form of corrupt activities,” he added.

READ MORE: National State of Disaster will ensure ‘effective response’

Mabuza further indicated that Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana had asked the provincial departments to reprioritise their budgets.

Floods that hit parts of KZN early in April, affected more than 75,000 people and left 445 people dead.

Government has since declared a national state of disaster to respond to the deluge in KZN.

According to Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the national state of disaster is likely to last for up to three months.

Former KZN Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC, Sipho Hlomuka said during his budget speech this week that here was R25 billion in damages to both public and private infrastructure across the province.

Source: citizen