KwaZulu-Natal is recovering from the deadliest floods in the history of the province which has left over 440 people including 57 children dead while at least 63 others are still missing.
On Monday, during his address to the nation on government’s response on the deadly floods that have ravaged KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the COVID-19 Solidarity Fund will be used for flood relief efforts.
Ramaphosa declared a National State of Disaster due to the widespread flooding
The president said a comprehensive assessment of the economic cost of these floods still has to be made, but it is clear that it will run into billions of rand for the rebuilding of infrastructure and loss of production.
Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana has said that a R1 billion is immediately available, and will be approaching Parliament for the appropriation of additional resources.
Speaking to The Citizen, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation’s executive director Neeshan Balton said government seems to have established national processes to share what the funds are intended for.
“Government has always been good on making these kinds of pronouncements and I would that this time around their intention to ensure there is no corruption involved in the disbursements of these funds is one that is going to be kept.”
“I think trust in political institutions of government and political parties is at an all-time low and should there be a repeat of the Covid-19 experience, I think it will destroy the very little trust that current exist,” said Balton.
Balton said it is in the interest of government and all involved not to do what has been done in the past.
“The president hinted that the involvement of a range of civil society formations, professional bodies in the oversight work on the usage of these funds and that national government will play the leading role in the disbursement and usage and utilization of these funds this time around, rather than just disbursing it to the province on a local level which I think is where the bulk of the problems will probably come down the line and given the track record of eThekwini, I think this is the right thing to do.”
Balton also urged that verifying information is critical following claims KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala received his own municipal water tanker outside his home and an eThekwini employee who was allegedly accused of stealing donated aid meant for flood victims.
“Where things go wrong, I think they have to be reported and this would include the water tanker issue to the premiers house which I think requires investigation and then if necessary that the requisite sanction needs to be meted out.”
Ramaphosa said it is going to take a massive effort, drawing on the resources and capabilities of the entire nation, to recover from the KwaZulu-Natal flood disaster.