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Parliament establishes special committee to oversee flood relief & rebuilding

26 April 2022 - 14:14
A 15m-wide hole where a bridge once stood in Ntuzuma in KwaZulu-Natal. Some farmers were hit hard, with a farmers' association saying it will cost at least R91m to replant eroded crops and repair damaged infrastructure. File photo.
A 15m-wide hole where a bridge once stood in Ntuzuma in KwaZulu-Natal. Some farmers were hit hard, with a farmers' association saying it will cost at least R91m to replant eroded crops and repair damaged infrastructure. File photo.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Parliament has established a special committee to oversee the implementation of flood relief measures and rebuilding in flood-devastated KwaZulu-Natal and parts of the Eastern Cape.

The two houses of parliament, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, in separate plenary sessions on Tuesday unanimously adopted motions to establish the joint ad hoc committee.

Tabling the motion in the National Assembly, ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina said the committee will oversee the response and implementation of relief measures by the government.

It will also confer with other committees that have a direct interest in the events, to facilitate co-ordinated oversight and exercise its powers, including those to summon any person to appear and give evidence and to produce documents.

Majodina said the committee will also engage relevant government departments and entities to assess the overall impact of the damage, response and relief measures by the government.

The committee will be made up of 20 members — 11 from the National Assembly, a majority of whom will be from the ANC, and nine NCOP delegates.

The committee will report back to a joint sitting of the two houses by November 30.

DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said the devastation has been huge and parliament has an obligation to ensure all efforts are taken to assist those affected by the disaster “and we therefore wholeheartedly agree with this motion and the ad hoc committee”.

All parties supported the move.

ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said the majority was grateful that all the political parties supported the establishment of the joint committee.

“This committee will do its work without involving politics as what happened in KZN and the Eastern Cape is tragic. We need to look at whether the government relief measures, and those donated by business, are being used properly, that they go to the people they are meant for,” she said.

“We will make sure no-one lines their pockets with what should go to the people and what is meant to build roads, bridges and homes.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster on April 18 and announced some of the relief measures instituted by the government in the affected areas.

He was scheduled to address a joint sitting of the two houses on Tuesday afternoon about the oversight role parliament and other institutions or sectors of society could play in the country’s response to the natural disaster.

In a media alert, the presidency said Ramaphosa was inviting parliament to ensure that resources reserved for social and economic assistance after the recent floods reach the intended beneficiaries.

It said the government’s response was unfolding in three phases: immediate humanitarian relief, ensuring that all affected people are safe and that their basic needs are met, building shelters for people who have lost their homes and restoring provision of services and reconstruction and rebuilding of infrastructure.

In March 2020, parliament declined a request by the DA for the establishment of an ad hoc committee for extended oversight over the executive during the Covid-19 lockdown.  

DA leader John Steenhuisen wrote to the then National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise asking her to set up a special committee to specifically monitor the work of the government during the lockdown.  

Modise’s deputy, Lechesa Tsenoli, responded saying existing portfolio committees of the National Assembly were equipped and had the necessary powers to deal with the matters raised in Steenhuisen’s correspondence, in line with their continued oversight and monitoring role.

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