The Ad-Hoc Joint Committee on Flood Disaster Relief and Recovery which has been recently established by Parliament has elected Mr Cedric Frolick and Mr Jomo Nyambi as its co-chairpersons.

Parliament established the committee following the destruction caused by the recent floods that took place in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), North West and in the Eastern Cape to, among others, assess the overall impact of the damage, monitor response and relief measures by government, and oversee the response and implementation of government relief measures.

Mr Nyambi said the establishment of the committee will help streamline the work of Parliament related to the floods and that will cut duplication as so many committees had sought to visit the affected areas at the same time to monitor similar challenges.

“The committee was established for performance of a basic task and we hope to complete during the time frame of the committee’s lifespan,” said Mr Nyambi.

Committee member, Mr Dean MacPherson, said it was important for the committee to get started with the work in order to ensure that urgent assistance was provided to those affected by the floods. “We will play our part with all the other political parties in order to honour the commitment placed on us by Parliament. This calls on all of us to put aside party politics,” he emphasised.

Another committee member, Ms Mina Lesoma, agreed with Mr MacPherson and added that the committee  needs to ensure that political differences are put aside. He said communities are getting impatient regarding the situation they find themselves in. He said: “It is important that the committee does not confine itself only to the disaster, but should consider going beyond and make necessary suggestions to the executive on future strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

The Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Mr Mkhuleko Hlengwa who is also part of the committee, called on the committee to exert the authority of Parliament on those tasked with responsibilities relating to the disaster. “Public confidence is on the decline as far as finance management is concerned on and around disasters. We need to exert the authority of Parliament and ensure that people do their jobs,”

Mr Hlengwa characterised the situation as urgent and dire and said it needed action on the ground. He also called for the spirit of team work in the committee in order to meet the objective for which it was established.

All members of the committee who spoke during its meeting emphasised the importance of working collaboratively as the committee. Committee member, Ms Ntombovuyo Mente called on the committee not to subject any aspect of its work on a vote, but what is required by the people on the ground.

In closing the meeting, Mr Frolick said the committee programme will be finalised on Monday and that a physical visit to the affected areas will also be considered. “We will schedule meetings of the committee where the committee will be briefed. Physical visits will be informed by what we have been told and what members from the affected provinces have experienced.”

Mr Frolick agreed that the work of the committee should not be subjected to a vote by members, but what members saw or found on the ground. Members of the committee said clarity was required around the R1 billion that had been promised particularly where it would come from and how much of it has been spent and on what.

By Sibongile Maputi

13 May 2022