DURBAN - THE R1 billion promised by the national government to be used for disaster relief to help KwaZulu-Natal recover from the floods has not yet arrived, a month after the natural disaster struck the province.
This is according to the DA which also claimed that National Treasury had refused to release the funds because the provincial government had not provided a breakdown on how the money would be spent. The party held a press briefing yesterday on the government’s alleged failure to respond to the disaster.
However, the provincial government rubbished the claims, with government spokesperson Lennox Mabaso accusing the DA of playing politics in order to distort the government’s work.
DA KZN leader Francois Rodgers revealed yesterday that the province had not received one cent of the money promised by President Cyril Ramaphosa and the National Treasury.
The party said it has been more than a month since the floods which cost the province lives, homes and left the public and private sector with a R25 billion infrastructure bill.
“Despite an assurance from President Ramaphosa – that the national government would contribute R1bn from its contingency reserve in National Disaster Relief Funding to KZN – the province will not receive any money and will instead have to re-prioritise its already tight budget to cover the amount,” he said.
“KZN’s Finance MEC has also confirmed that the provincial government will have to re-prioritise its budget to find the R1bn over the next three years, in order to deal with the damage. The effect on KZN’s people when it comes to service delivery will be enormous.”
Rodgers said part of the problem leading to the delays in the release of the funds was that the province had not filed a breakdown plan on how the money was going to be spent.
He said while waiting for the funds from the national government, the province should be using the contingency reserve funds it has. “The province has R300 million in reserve, this is money that we keep in case of a disaster.”
Mabaso equated the DA to peacetime heroes that were missing in action when needed the most, only to resurface when calm had been restored to undermine work that had been done.
He said the provincial and national governments were authorised, as they were in times of disaster, to re-prioritise funds from their budget to fund the immediate needs and they would be reimbursed by the national treasury.
He said the government response to the disaster was three-pronged: it was giving out humanitarian aid to the survivors, and burying those who died, while reconnecting the disrupted services.
He said funds had been used to respond to some of these emergencies. “The roads have been opened, what does the DA think this has been done with? It is being done with this money.”
The National Treasury said there were no delays in the allocation, but there was a process that needed to be followed to unlock the funds.
The National Treasury said it had been advised by the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) that they had received a request from the KZN province.
“Therefore, as soon as the NDMC has processed this submission, the required application for the release of immediate response funding will be made to the National Treasury.”