Zikalala insists KZN flood relief will be protected as he apologises for water tanker home delivery

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  • More than 400 people lost their lives in the floods in KwaZulu-Natal last week.
  • Premier Sihle Zikalala has gone on the defensive, insisting that relief funds will be protected.
  • Opposition political parties have raised concerns about the provincial government's ability to ensure that relief funding was used ethically.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala was cornered in the provincial legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday as opposition political parties raised doubt about the government's ability to spend flood relief funds without corruption.

Zikalala faced criticism and concern about how the provincial government handled the flooding disaster.

DEVELOPING | KZN floods: 23 hospitals, 34 clinics and community health centres damaged - Phaahla

He insisted that measures would be implemented to ensure that resources and funds donated after the flood disaster would not be abused.

He said proper measures would be followed regarding procurement.

Zikalala said the Office of the Auditor-General, the Public Protector and the South African Human Rights Commission were willing to help ensure that funds were used for their intended purpose.

Zikalala told fellow members of the legislature:

We agree there must be no tolerance [for] the abuse of public funds. We will put in place several measures to protect funds. We will ensure procurement is cost-effective and fair.

Despite these assurances from Zikalala, opposition political parties warned strongly about the ANC's behaviour regarding public funds.

The EFF called for the establishment of a multi-party committee to oversee the spending of relief funding.

EFF MPL Vusimuzi Khoza said the ANC could not be trusted with handling relief funds donated to the province.

The EFF also blamed the ANC for not acting quickly on land expropriation, leading to people building homes on unsustainable land.

"The ANC government is responsible for this disaster because the ANC has refused to take land from thieves. It has failed our people and forced them to build houses on sloping ground. It is because the ANC has failed our people.

"If these ANC cadres could steal money meant for funerals, what would stop them from stealing money meant for floods? Wherever there is the ANC, there is looting."

The IFP, through its leader Velenkosini Hlabisa, echoed those sentiments, saying a close watch should be kept on spending to ensure that public funds were used to benefit the public.

Hlabisa said:

As the IFP, we will be vigilant in our oversight role to ensure funding is used prudently.

DA MPL Francois Rodgers said despite calls for unity, there were several weaknesses in the government's response.

Rodgers said there seemed to be no coordination in responding to the floods.

READ | KZN floods: Health department deploys team to assess impact on healthcare services

Zikalala defended the government's response, saying the provincial government had warned of unusual weather ahead of the flood disaster.

He also defended himself against allegations that a water tanker had been diverted to his home.

Zikalala has since apologised for the incident at his home in La Mercy in Durban.

He insisted that he had not been home when the water tanker was delivered.

Tashya Giyapersad, vice-chair of the La Mercy Residents' Association, said the organisation had noted the premier's apology. "We intend having a meeting with him," she said without stating when the meeting was set to take place. Giyapersad said they intended to communicate the outcomes of their meeting with Zikalala "in the next day or two".

In total, 448 people have died in the floods that engulfed KwaZulu-Natal last week. Hundreds of people have lost their homes.

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a National State of Disaster.

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