KZN’s disaster management unit neglected, says DA

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DA provincial Cogta spokesperson Chris Pappas (right) seen here with Cllr Hazel Lake inspecting a vandalised facility.
DA provincial Cogta spokesperson Chris Pappas (right) seen here with Cllr Hazel Lake inspecting a vandalised facility.
Nokuthula Ntuli

With a tropical cyclone expected to hit several areas in northern KwaZulu-Natal this weekend, the DA has accused the provincial government of neglecting the province’s disaster management unit.

According to the DA, the unit, which falls under the provincial Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Department, currently does not have adequate capacity to deal with disasters. “Responses to DA parliamentary questions about disaster management in the province reveal a department that is severely underfunded and understaffed,” DA provincial Cogta spokesperson Chris Pappas said.

There are 19 vacancies at the disaster management centre, which currently has 22 employees. “There is a budget shortfall of R298 083 000 in the department to achieve optimal performance,” Pappas said.

Apart from manpower shortages, Pappas said, the unit also does not have enough equipment to respond to disasters.

“Of greatest concern in the short term is that the unit has had its funding cut from R50,8 million to R17,9 million due to universal Covid-19 budget cuts. These cuts are unjustifiable given that a pandemic by definition is a disaster. It would have made more sense if the department had budget increases during this period and not cuts,” he said.

Pappas urged Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka to inform the public about the state of the province’s disaster management unit. 

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