President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent a ‘stern’ warning to government departments and businesses providing goods and services, that South Africa will not stand for acts of self-enrichment at the expense of those who need relief – following a deluge of catastrophic floods in some parts of the country.
The president’s comments, at a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday, come after concerns that government funding to give affected citizens across KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape the resources to respond to the disaster would be misappropriated or wasted.
“We have to ensure that all the funds used to respond to this disaster are spent effectively,” said Ramaphosa.
Great source of shame
Showing that he has been listening, the President said: “It is a great source of shame that when this disaster struck, the most burning public debate was around fears that the resources allocated to respond to this disaster would be misappropriated or wasted.
“This shows us just how tired the people of South Africa have become of corruption.
“It is a stern reminder to all of government and to businesses providing goods and services that the people of South Africa will not stand for acts of self-enrichment at the expense of those who have already lost so much,” he said.
54 still missing after KZN floods
The President’s address comes after the devastating rainfall left 435 people dead in KwaZulu-Natal (from floods between 8 and 13 April) – among them 58 school pupils and one educator. About 54 people are still missing and unaccounted for, while over 5 700 houses have been completely damaged.
In the Eastern Cape, at least two people lost their lives in the flooding – three people were injured and around 1 000 people were affected by the destruction of houses and other losses. In the North West, at least 1535 houses were damaged by heavy rainfall.
The President said several measures are being taken to strengthen oversight and accountability.
“Working together with National Treasury, the Auditor-General will conduct real-time audits on the emergency flood relief funds.
“This will provide independent assurance on whether public funds have been appropriately accounted for and were used for their intended purpose.
“These audits aim to prevent, detect and report on the findings to ensure an immediate response to prevent leakage, potential fraud and wastage.
“They will equip accounting officers and accounting authorities to act quickly on weaknesses in controls and prevent further losses. They will also enable immediate oversight and consequence management,” he said.
The President said the National Treasury is also strengthening reporting requirements with respect to expenditure on disaster relief.
“To improve monitoring and ensure greater transparency, the details of all disaster-related procurement by public institutions will be published on the Treasury website to allow public scrutiny of these procurement transactions.”
UN Team visits KZN
A technical team of the United Nations (UN) in South Africa is currently in KwaZulu-Natal to assess the damage in the parts of the province that were affected by the recent floods. The visit began on Monday and concludes on Thursday.
“We have been supporting the province following the floods in 2019 and the civil unrest of 2021. We will continue to support rebuilding efforts to ensure that no-one is left behind as part of the Memorandum of Understanding that we have in place with the provincial leadership in that province,” Acting Resident Coordinator for the UN in South Africa, Ayodele Odusola, said in a statement.
PRASA estimates nearly R3-billion damage
The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) says its preliminary assessment of the rail infrastructure that was damaged during the KZN Floods has been estimated at between R2.6 billion and R2.9 billion.