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Auditor-General to police KZN flood relief funds as MPs warn of vultures ‘waiting at the gates’

Auditor-General to police KZN flood relief funds as MPs warn of vultures ‘waiting at the gates’

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Auditor-General to police KZN flood relief funds as MPs warn of vultures ‘waiting at the gates’—

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced several measures to monitor emergency flood relief funds, adding that it was a “great shame” the public debate in the aftermath of the deadly flooding in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of the Eastern Cape was dominated by corruption.

This was also true for the statements from opposition MPs after Ramaphosa addressed both Houses of Parliament on Tuesday on the government’s response to the disaster.

“Two weeks ago, a great tragedy befell our nation, causing catastrophic loss of life and widespread destruction,” Ramaphosa said early in his speech, which was reminiscent of his televised national addresses. “The floods in parts of KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and North West were of such force that they laid waste to nearly everything in their path.”

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He added:

Hundreds of people lost their lives. Many are still missing. Hillsides, homes, roads, bridges and other infrastructure were washed away. Factories, warehouses, shops, public buildings, farms and fields were flooded.

Ramaphosa said just when we were rebuilding the lives shattered by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the economy was showing signs of recovery, South Africa was “plunged into mourning” once again.

The areas affected by flooding would require a significant commitment of resources to recover, he said.

“We will need to mobilise substantial funding within a fiscal environment that is severely constrained,” Ramaphosa said.

“We have to provide support to displaced households and rebuild roads, bridges, buildings and other infrastructure, while at the same time sustaining expenditure measures in support of the reconstruction and recovery of our economy.”

The president said the country has to respond to the impact of the catastrophic floods while still counting the cost of the Covid-19 pandemic and the July 2021 public unrest.

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He said some of the required funding was available in existing budgets of departments, provinces, municipalities and public entities.

National Treasury will guide the relevant institutions on how they may reprioritise resources in their budgets, how they can access disaster response grants, and the requirements for the reallocation of conditional grant funds.

Another funding source is the contingency reserve for the 2022-2023, which can be used to repair and rebuild damaged infrastructure and other disaster recovery, but this will only become available once the 2022 Appropriation Act is enacted.

The Solidarity Fund is also putting in place dedicated teams to assist with humanitarian and other forms of relief.

“We have to ensure that all the funds used to respond to this disaster are spent effectively.

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Ramaphosa said:

It is a great source of shame that, when this disaster struck, the most burning public debate was around fears that the resources allocated to respond to this disaster would be misappropriated or wasted.
This, he said, shows us just how tired the people of South Africa have become of corruption.

“It is a stern reminder to all of government and to businesses providing goods and services that the people of South Africa will not stand for acts of self-enrichment at the expense of those who have already lost so much.”

He said there would be several measures to strengthen oversight and accountability.

 

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