A joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces will be held on Tuesday where President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the two houses on the recent floods in the country’s East Coast.
National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula announced this development during a meeting of the National Assembly’s programming committee on Thursday.
The floods have left hundreds dead and caused extensive damage to homes and infrastructure.
“Given the tragic circumstances that confront us, it is imperative that parliament plays its part. In this regard, I received a letter from [President Cyril Ramaphosa] calling a joint sitting on Tuesday the 26th of April at 2pm. This is to ensure that the elected representatives of the people of our country can be directly involved in oversight of the work that is needed to provide relief and to rebuild,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
In an address to the nation on Monday, President Ramaphosa announced that Cabinet had decided to declare a National State of Disaster in response to floods, which have wreaked havoc in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of the Eastern Cape. During the address, the President said he would approach parliament’s Presiding Officers to request a joint sitting of the two houses.
The Speaker said other political parties will be given the opportunity to respond to or to make comments on President Ramaphosa’s statement to the two houses. She also reflected on the devastation caused by the flooding not only in KwaZulu-Natal but also in other parts of the country.
“The devastating flooding, damage and loss of life will have a profound lasting impact. Not just only those directly affected but for all South Africans. We all share the grief and despair of those lost loved ones [and those] who lost their homes and livelihoods.
“This disaster has occurred even as we are recovering from the economic hardships by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unrest of last year,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mapisa-Nqakula also announced that before the President’s address, the two houses of parliament will meet to establish an ad hoc committee focussing on government’s efforts to provide relief to those affected by the floods.
“On the 18th of April, I received a letter from the chief whip of the majority party proposing the establishment of an ad hoc committee to exercise oversight on the state of disaster in KwaZulu-Natal.
“I am informed that the matter was discussed in the Chief Whips’ Forum and there is an understanding that the National Assembly will establish the ad hoc committee on the 26th of April after the joint sitting,” she said.