LACK OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT PLANS IN PROVINCE AND METRO

With nine months to go before the FIFA Soccer World Cup, neither the Nelson Mandela Metro — as a host city — nor any of the six District Municipalities in the province have Disaster Management Plans in place. In essence, the Eastern Cape is not ready for 2010.

In reply to a written parliamentary question by the Democratic Alliance, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sicelo Shiceka, revealed that the Eastern Cape had not submitted its disaster management plan to the National Disaster Management Centre in terms of section 38 of the Disaster Management Act. “Work is still in progress. The process is linked to the current Disaster Management Policy Development process,” he said. None of the district municipalities or the Nelson Mandela Metro “have submitted acceptable and appropriate disaster plans”, as required in section 53 of the Act.

One of the most disenfranchised areas in the country, the Alfred Nzo District Municipality does not even have a Disaster Management Centre, in terms of section 43. The reason was “financial constraints”. Shiceka said that in view of the fact that “discussions with National Treasury on various occasions to support municipalities to establish disaster management centres by means of a start-up have had no positive result, the municipalities have been encouraged to rather make provision in their own budgets for this purpose or approach their relevant province for assistance”.

The Province, Mandela Metro and other municipalities have also not submitted annual reports to the National Disaster Management Centre, in accordance to section 36 and 50 Act.

The Disaster Management Act of 2002 provides for an integrated and co-ordinated disaster management policy that focuses on preventing or reducing the risk of disasters, mitigating the severity of disasters, emergency preparedness, rapid and effective response to disasters and post-disaster recovery.

Disaster management funding is often neglected or under budgeted for in municipalities.

What is needed is ongoing investment into the appointment of qualified staff and modernised equipment. In the last two years the DA-run Cape Town Metro has invested R152 million on fire and rescue equipment and vehicles.

In addition, vast amounts have been spent by them on fitness training and exposure to overseas “best practice” by having these partners share their skills with the Cape Metro staff.

Cape Town is ready for any eventuality.

However, for the Eastern Cape not to have the basics in place at this stage of the 2010 FIFA preparations is irresponsible.

The DA calls on the FIFA Organising Committee in the province to come clean and reveal what is in place, how emergency situations will be handled and if sufficient capacity exists to do this work.

Plans need to be implemented – are this province and the Metro capable of rolling out such plans?

It is a known fact that much of the Disaster Management equipment and vehicles in the province are moribund or obsolete and there are dire shortages.

Previous disasters in this province have shown the incapacity and lack of coordination by authorities to lever a successful and efficient disaster management strategy.

The recent veld fires in the OR Tambo District in which at least six people died, are examples where preparedness, rapid and effective response and capacity was lacking.

I have submitted questions to the MEC for Local Government in this regard and with my parliamentary colleagues will be monitoring remedial steps and time frames. We will continue pushing for funding to ensure a satisfactory Disaster Management Plan is ready in the Nelson Mandela Metro and District Municipalities, should the need arise.

Please find the reply from the Minister attached.

For further information, please contact Dacre Haddon, MPL on 0796943788