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DA and rights body meet over slow provision of help for flood victims

30 November 2022

DA says KZN government is ‘too slow’ in providing help for flood victims.

Could the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) be heading towards a showdown with the KwaZulu-Natal government over the “slow” provision of help for flood victims?

The commission had an engagement with the DA leadership on Monday about the flood victims who are still in mass centres.

Party provincial leader Francois Rodgers said the meeting between the two parties has vindicated the public concerns around the slow pace of aid to flood victims by the government.

Rodgers said the engagement comes after the party handed over a memorandum of demands earlier this month relating to “shocking” conditions experienced by flood victims in eThekwini mass care centres.

    The meeting saw the commission expressing its frustration and disappointment at the appallingly slow response by government departments and municipalities across the province. This despite both KZN’s Human Settlements Department and the eThekwini Municipality receiving additional emergency funding in order to assist flood victims

“These victims have been pushed from pillar to post for seven long months and counting. This while the government continues to over-promise and under-deliver. One example is the recent assurance that thousands living in mass care centres will no longer be there by Christmas, with the halls being cleared by December 15. This is highly unlikely given the sheer numbers involved.”

Conflicting numbers

Rodgers said this raised another important matter — the conflicting numbers being reported. “The DA estimates that there are 15 000 people living in squalid conditions in the centres. This is based on our own extensive on-the-ground work. Meanwhile, the government has stated that there are 3 448 people at the 58 mass care facilities that remain.

    The SAHRC has pledged to work with the DA from here on. It has also raised the possibility of litigation against the government on the basis of slow delivery. We will continue to engage with the SAHRC in the days ahead

IFP MPL Blessed Gwala said his party has been vindicated as they have pointed out from the onset that the KZN government had no capacity to handle the floods and its aftermath.

“There were floods before the last one and the victims were still destitute when the second floods hit. This saw the increase in the number of victims and despite the national government, business and NGOs intervention, the provincial government still could not handle the situation.

“The Red Cross and the Gift of the Givers can do a far better job than the government in dealing with the flooding victims,” said Gwala.

Provincial government spokesperson Gugu Sisilana referred The Witness to the Department of Human Settlements for comment.

Department spokesperson Mlungisi Khumalo said many of the flood victims have already been moved to transitional emergency accommodation.

Some have been moved to temporary residential units (TRUs), whilst some have already been moved to permanent housing.

He said there were processes to be followed before any residential or any type of construction is undertaken.

    As the department we are concerned about the cheap political point-scoring by the two parties. Obviously we sympathise with the people and the commitment to move them from the mass centres to TRUs by December is still well on track.

Of the original 135 mass care centres opened after the floods in April and May, only 58 remain with 77 having been shut down. As many as 1 603 temporary residential units of the planned 1 810 have been built and the remaining 207 should be completed by early December.

Source: The Witness

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