Disaster Management in province in crisis

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Provincial Leader

The DA is concerned that disaster management in the province shows no signs of improvement. On Wednesday 3 September the department of COGHSTA tabled its quarterly report in the Legislature asking hard questions as to why disaster management in the province is such a disaster.

Municipalities receive two separate conditional grants to be spent on disaster management. However, the recently published audit report from the Auditor-General shows that municipalities are not spending their grants on fire fighting, drought relief or drought prevention. Between the Pixkley ka Seme, Z.F. Mcgawu, Namakwa and John Taolo Gaetsewe district municipalities, there is currently R3.3 billion in unspent conditional grants that are earmarked for disaster prevention and relief. By comparison, the National Disaster Management Centre donated R50 million earlier this year for farmers affected by the recent drought. The unspent R3.3 billion could have gone a long way towards saving farmers and animals from the impact of the drought. It is particularly ironic that John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality notes in its annual financial statements that its region is “prone to natural disasters”, yet it held on to R603 953 that could have lessened the region’s sensitivity to natural disasters.

How can we expect local municipalities to render a proper service if this is the example set by district municipalities?

The quarterly report from the department of COGHSTA shows that a number of intergovernmental disaster management forum meetings have taken place. It does not seem, however, that the meetings have yielded positive results. We are still waiting for the provincial disaster management centre to be launched in terms of the Disaster Management Act of 2002.

The Northern Cape is too prone to natural disasters for us to be silent on this matter.