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Zikalala assures SA no relief funds will be looted in KZN as DA turns to parliament

KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala says the provincial government has learned lessons from the corruption seen during the Covid-19 pandemic. File photo.
KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala says the provincial government has learned lessons from the corruption seen during the Covid-19 pandemic. File photo.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala has assured SA that relief funds meant to help those affected by the deadly floods in the province will not be looted. 

The National Treasury identified R1bn in contingency reserve funds that can immediately be released to departments to assist families affected by the floods. Human settlements minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said her department would draw about R1.6bn from its own funds reserved for such disasters to help rebuild damaged homes.

The government is also considering erecting temporary residential units on stands where it is safe to rebuild damaged homes, and giving affected families R8,000 vouchers they can use to purchase building materials.

“All the resources allocated for flood relief and the recovery and rebuilding process will be utilised in line with fiscal rectitude, accountability, transparency and openness,” said Zikalala.

He said the provincial government learnt lessons from the corruption seen during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“No amount of corruption, maladministration and fraud will be tolerated or associated with this province,” said Zikalala. .

“Work of quality and value for money will be done. We have monitoring institutions in place, including the auditor-general. We will act decisively without fear, favour or prejudice against anyone taking advantage of the resources meant to assist the needy communities.”

Zikalala’s comments came as a video emerged of a tanker delivering water to his north coast home amid water shortages after the devastating floods.

La Mercy resident Riyashan Owen Pather questioned how the premier had arranged the “private tanker”, meant to supply water to affected communities, while La Mercy Civic and Ratepayers Association chairperson Ravi Ramsundar claimed community members were prevented from getting water from the tanker and told “the water was for the premier only”.

Zikalala claimed the video was “carefully choreographed and strategically selected to create a false narrative to distract from the intervention the premier did first to communities in his neighbourhood who asked him for assistance knowing he lived in the area”.

DA to make suggestions to ensure money isn’t looted

Meanwhile, the DA said it would forward suggestions to parliament to make sure relief funds are not looted. 

DA MP Cilliers Brink said the party will be making specific proposals to assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on how to strengthen the oversight powers of parliament and prevent the abuse of power and public money under a national state of disaster.

“Having ignored the DA’s proposals on how to prevent the abuse of disaster relief funds at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa would be well advised to listen to what we have to say this time,” said Brink.

He claimed the declaration of a national state of disaster is a confirmation there is no effective co-ordination of flood relief.

“The health risks linked to an unstable supply of clean water and a lack of sanitation are high and we cannot afford a repeat of the personal protective equipment scandal where people’s lives were gambled while officials and cadres looted critical funding.

“The DA is especially concerned about the lack of drinking water in the eThekwini metro, where two of the city’s reservoirs are no longer functional, and thousands of households rely on municipal water tankers. There are widespread reports of ANC ward councillors commandeering these water tankers,” said Brink. 

Brink said government needed a clear plan of how basic infrastructure is going to be restored, and how disaster relief would be managed in the meantime.

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