Durban - The eThekwini Municipality has dismissed as misleading a DA statement that the municipality had failed to issue warnings to its citizens about flooding, which left more than 400 people dead.
In a media briefing on Monday, the provincial leadership of the DA lashed out at the city leadership, saying it should be held accountable for the damage and loss of lives by the devastating floods because it failed to alert people despite weather services having issued a warning two days before the disaster.
The DA also said the city should have acted more swiftly after weather services elevated warnings from level 3 to 9, which meant that it was going to be severe and possibly cause huge damage and loss of life.
But municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said that the DA’s statement was misleading because the city sent out teams with loud-hailers and warnings to be on high alert, especially in the disaster-prone areas.
Mayisela said the city was appealing to all political parties to put their differences aside and work together in dealing with the disaster caused by the floods.
“The city embarked on a loud-hailing communication campaign through its community participation unit, where teams were sent out to areas more prone to flooding, such as informal settlements. Our disaster management teams were also on high alert in areas when assistance would be needed and we believe that their speedy response in these areas helped save lives,” said Mayisela.
The DA had questioned whether the city’s disaster management centre was working, calling it a disaster itself. Party caucus leader Nicole Graham said the city lacked leadership, there was no co-ordination and people were getting frustrated and angry in halls and churches where they were sheltered after the disaster. The DA also raised the issue of the R1 billion committed by both President Cyril Ramaphosa and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, which the party said it had been told was no longer available.
This was denied by government spokesperson Lennox Mabaso, who accused the DA of lacking knowledge of how government finances worked and said the party thought Minister Godongwana would bring R1bn to KwaZulu-Natal in a briefcase.