Durban — Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele has affirmed the work done to relocate flood victims in KwaZulu-Natal to new accommodations.
On Wednesday, Gungubele said that as 2022 drew to a close, there can be no doubt it was an extremely hard year for South Africans and citizens around the world.
He said we reflect, amongst others, on how the reality of climate change has started to make its impact felt on our lives.
He said that in April 2022, as South Africans were still grappling with the process of rebuilding livelihoods after Covid-19 and the ravages of the global pandemic, torrential rainfall caused massive floods, which had a devastating impact on communities countrywide with the KwaZulu-Natal province severely affected. Sadly, lives and livelihoods were tragically lost, and infrastructure was destroyed across the province.
Worst of all was the displacement of over 8 000 families by the floodwaters in KwaZulu-Natal. All district municipalities were affected, with Ugu, King Cetshwayo, uMgungundlovu, KwaDukuza, Msunduzi, Ilembe and the eThekwini, municipalities being the worst hit.
Gungubele said that under the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa, a national response was initiated, and emergency delegations were instituted to fast-track relief efforts. This response focussed on immediate humanitarian relief efforts, efforts to stabilise and recover all affected areas of society and the economy, as well as rehabilitation and reconstruction measures.
“It is without a doubt that this was one of the most devastating natural disasters in the life of our young democracy. The damage was a shock to us all and made us alive to just how we will need to mitigate all we do to be resistant to climate change,” Gungubele said.
“What we have learnt from the monitoring and evaluation work carried out by government consistently since the disaster is that significantly more work is needed across all spheres of government to strengthen and improve our disaster management efforts. We cannot deny that our response times and efforts need improvement in various areas, and thank communities for their patience in working with government to get to where we are now.
“The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, working with the National Disaster Management Centre under Cogta, have assessed our disaster management protocols and are putting in place better measures to address things including rapid yet accountable procurement measures when needed in times of disaster,” Gungubele continued.
He said that the major task following the disaster was accomodating those who lost their homes to the floodwaters in safe interim accommodation in halls, community centres and other safe shelters and, thereafter, settling them into more suitable accommodation while new accommodation is being finalised.
He also said that, as a nation, and especially at this time of the holiday season, our hearts continue to go out to those who lost loved ones during the floods this year and also to those who have experienced such disruption of their lives.
Gungubele said that it was, however, with great joy that government affirms the work done by many publicly elected representatives and officials in fulfilling the promise made to relocate all families to new and more acceptable accommodation before Christmas 2022.
He said that in this regard, a special word of appreciation is given to KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube and her team for the successful relocation of all remaining families from mass care centres, especially in the eThekwini Municipality.
“The efforts of Premier Dube-Ncube and MEC for Human Settlements, Dr Mahlaba, as well as the mayor of eThekwini, councillor Mxolisi Kaunda, as well as mayors across the province and all their staff, make us proud during this season of goodwill. It is in giving and serving others that the life and moral fibre of a nation is strengthened,” Gungubele said.
He went on to say that in affirming these efforts, the government similarly extends its deep gratitude to the many organisations, communities of faith, non-government organisations, community-based organisations and individual South Africans, as well as our foreign friends who, in the true spirit of Ubuntu, rallied efforts of relief and support to those who needed them the most.
He also extended deep and sincere appreciation to other social partners, including business and labour as well as the traditional leaders of the KZN province, who mobilised resources to bring much-needed relief, as well as to social workers who worked tirelessly often under trying circumstances to bring counselling to those grieving and in need of emotional support.
Gungubele said that in the intermediate phase, people were provided with alternative accommodation and some basic needs in different areas, such as community halls and churches across affected districts.
He said that in ensuring that the stabilisation phase became possible, the National Department of Human Settlement availed R325 764 000 from the Provincial Emergency Housing Grant for the provision of emergency housing solutions. From this grant, 1 731 temporary residential units were built and handed over to beneficiaries, 10 transitional emergency accommodation sites have been provided, a total of 493 families received building material supply, and the process of building permanent housing is still continuing. There were 135 mass care centres in affected districts, and by December 24, 2022, all of them were closed, and families were relocated to temporary units and transitional emergency accommodation.
Gungubele said that for the rehabilitation phase (Long Term Infrastructure Projects), the government is building permanent housing structures for displaced families, counselling is also being provided to all families, while bridges and corroded roads, much of which has been restored, will be fixed over time and as budgets allow. The government will also ensure that people residing in flood-prone areas are relocated.
He said the government appeals to all social partners to work together in rolling out public education about the dangers of building homes in hazard-prone areas.
He said that on December 23 and 24, under the leadership of the Dube-Ncube and Kaunda, a Christmas Party was hosted for families who were relocated to Crystal Valley, Astra Building and Pinetown Student Accommodation, which is also part of the families’ accommodation facilities also supported by Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza. Then on December 27, a Christmas Party was hosted at the Msunduzi Local Municipality for the families which were accommodated at Truro Community Hall in Pietermaritzburg with the support of the District mayor, councillor Mzi Zuma.
Gungubele said that as we are still in the rainy season, they are encouraging people to be vigilant. Follow social media, announcements by your ward counsellors and amakhosi, and your local media houses for all weather alerts from the South African Weather Services. Communities are again urged to avoid crossing high or fast-flowing rivers and streams as these are extremely dangerous.
“As we draw to the end of 2022, this milestone of successfully closing mass care centres, and bringing some cheer to those in distress, makes me believe that, as a nation, we can overcome some of the other ills our society faces and which we have seen over this holiday season – racism; intolerance and impatience on roads when driving; inadequate care and protection of vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly; excessive abuse of alcohol and the scourge of GBVF. Our nation can triumph over these ills if we harness the values of social solidarity, nationhood and love for our fellow being”, concluded Gungubele.