The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Mr Des van Rooyen in his capacity as the chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) on drought and water scarcity welcomed the reclassification of drought as a national disaster.
Following the announcement by the IMTT on 09 February 2018, the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), reclassified drought as a national disaster and a notice to this effect was published in Government Gazette No 414389, dated 13 February 2018.
This decision followed the NDMC consultations with relevant Provincial Disaster Management Centre and a thorough reassessment of the magnitude and severity of the ongoing drought condition in the country. A classification of a national disaster designates the primary responsibility to coordinate and manage the disaster to the national executive, in close cooperation with provincial and local government, the private sector and civil society, using the applicable contingency plans and existing legislative mechanisms at its disposal to effectively deal with the effects of the disaster. This may include providing financial assistance and / or other relief materials to municipalities and communities by provincial and national government.
Subsequently, the NDMC called upon organs of state to strengthen and support the disaster management structures to implement contingency plans and ensure that immediate relief, recovery and reconstruction measures are put in place to enable the national executive to effectively deal with the effects of this disaster. This includes aligning contingency plans, preparing and submitting reports as required by the NDMC, mobilizing resources, etc, in order to better align and coordinate the response effort across the spheres of government, the private sector and civil society.
The classification therefore gives the national executive the primary responsibility to coordinate and manage the disaster with or without the declaration of a national state of disaster. All spheres of government are expected to proceed to deal with the disaster and its consequences in the respective sphere of responsibility, assisted and supported by the other spheres of government as needed and provided for by Section 23(8) of the Act.
The declaration of a national state of disaster, will be considered during the meeting of the IMTT in the coming month. Once a national state of disaster is declared, it will enable the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), in consultation with relevant Cabinet Ministers, to make regulations, authorise the issue of directions when it is clear that the existing legislation and contingency plans no longer adequately provide for the national executive to effectively deal with the disaster.
It important to indicate that the declaration of a state of disaster at any level (local, provincial or national) is NOT primarily aimed at requesting funding, but it is aimed at activating the required extra-ordinary legislative measures, to the extent that it is necessary for the purpose of assisting or protecting the public, providing relief to the public, protecting property, preventing or combating disruption and dealing with the destructive and other effects of the disaster.
National Government through the National Joint Drought Coordination Committee (NJDCC ), the IMTT and other institutional structures will ensure that resources are mobilised and support is marshalled to the affected provinces and municipalities to implement intervention measures and also consider recovery in the long term.
Minister van Rooyen urges South Africans and all visitors to continue saving water.
CoGTA – Head of Communications
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