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Classification of a National Disaster in Terms of Section 23 of the Disaster Management Act (Act No. 57 of 2002): Impact of Severe Weather in Three Provinces

Dr. Elias Sithole, the Head of the National Disaster Management Centre, has, in accordance with section 12 of the DMA and section 23(1)(b), released a notice regarding the classification of a national disaster. This pertains to the severe weather incidents in September 2023 affecting the Eastern Cape and Western Cape Provinces, as well as those in October 2023 in KwaZulu-Natal, as outlined in Section 23(1)(b) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002) (the Act).

In terms of section 23(6) of the DMA, a disaster is classified as a national disaster if it affects more than one province or a single province, which is unable to deal with it effectively.

The purpose to classify a disaster is to:

  1. formally determine that a disaster exist;
  2. assign primary responsibility to a particular sphere of government for the coordinationand management of the disaster.
  3. ensure that a sphere of government is accountable for the disaster; and
  4. enable organs of state in other spheres to assist the sphere having primary responsibility, to deal with the disaster or its consequences.
  5. The classification follows engagements with various organs of state, Eastern Cape and Western Cape Provincial Disaster Management Centres, and after assessing the magnitude and severity of the impact of severe weather that resulted in flooding, storm surges and gale force winds during September 2023 and also disruptive rains, lightning and strong winds during October 2023 in the KwaZulu-Natal Province.

The severe weather events in the three Provinces caused devastating impacts in various municipalities in the three provinces, that resulted in the loss of life, damage to property, infrastructure and the environment, and after having considered the information and recommendations received from the three Provincial Disaster Management Centres.

Emanating from the classification of this occurrences as a national disaster, in terms of section 26 read with section 23 of the Act, the primary responsibility to coordinate and manage this disaster, in terms of existing legislation and contingency arrangements, is designated to the national executive.

The head of the NDMC has in terms of Section 15(2)(aA) of the Act, read with section 23(8), called upon organs of state to further strengthen support to existing structures to implement contingency arrangements and ensure that measures are put in place to enable the national executive to effectively deal with the effects of this disaster.

Furthermore, all affected organs of state must prepare and submit reports, as required by the National Disaster Management Centre as outlined in section 24(4) – (8) of the Act.

Ends –

For media enquiries, kindly contact:

Mr. Legadima Leso: 066 479 9904

Mr. Tsekiso Machike: 078 237 3900

Issued by the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA)

Editor’s note: The Disaster Management Act (DMA) provides separately for the classification of a disaster and the declaration of states of disaster at the national (S 27), provincial (S 41) and municipal (S 55) sphere of government.  The classification of a disaster is a power that vests in the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), taking into consideration recommendations from the relevant Provincial Disaster Management Centres (PDMCs) and Municipal Disaster Management Centres (MDMCs).  Disaster declaration: after an occurrence is classified as a local, provincial or national disaster by the NDMC, if existing legislation and contingencies are inadequate to deal with the disaster, the Council, or Premier, or Minister to whom primary responsibility to manage and coordinate the disaster was assigned, may declare a local, provincial or national state of disaster, as the case may be to augment the existing legislation, contingency arrangements and emergency procedures through directives and Regulations.