Ramaphosa to address parliament about KZN floods on Tuesday
President Cyril Ramaphosa will make a special appearance in parliament next week to update both houses on the state of disaster in KwaZulu-Natal.
Parliament will also establish a special committee to oversee the relief and rebuilding efforts.
National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula confirmed to the assembly’s programming committee on Thursday morning that she has received a letter from Ramaphosa calling for a hybrid joint sitting on Tuesday.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the session will be held to ensure that elected public representatives are directly involved in the oversight of the work needed to provide relief and rebuild in KwaZulu-Natal.
Political parties will also get an opportunity to respond and comment on Ramaphosa’s statement, said Mapisa-Nqakula.
This was after the EFF, FF Plus and ANC chief whips questioned whether political parties will have a say.
“There has to be a very firm resolution and agreement that if the president has requested for a joint sitting to address on the floods in KZN, political parties must be given a space to say something as well,” said the EFF’s Floyd Shivambu.
“If he’s just going to address us and say ‘it’s done’, he might as well call a press conference. If there is going to be a joint sitting, there has to be responses from political parties,” he added.
FF Plus’ Corne Mulder agreed saying they would like clarity on whether parties will be given an opportunity to respond and make an input.
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina added: “We fully agree that after the president’s address, parties should be given an opportunity to comment and give input because this is a national disaster that goes beyond KZN.”
Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster on Monday and in his address to the nation that evening said he would be approaching parliament’s presiding officers to request a joint sitting of parliament next week “to ensure that the elected representatives of the people of our country can be directly involved in oversight of the work that is needed to provide relief and to rebuild”.
A comprehensive assessment of the economic cost of the floods was still to be made, but it was clear that it would run into billions of rand for the rebuilding of infrastructure and loss of production, the president said on Monday.
“It will be critical, as we undertake this work, that all the resources we mobilise are used for their intended purposes and reach the intended recipients. There can be no room for corruption, mismanagement or fraud of any sort,” he said.
Mapisa-Nqakula also announced that Majodina has also written to her proposing the establishment of an ad hoc committee to exercise oversight on the state of disaster in KwaZulu-Natal.
“I’m informed that the matter was discussed in the chief whips’ forum and there is an understanding the National Assembly will establish the committee on April 26,” she said.
In March 2020, parliament declined a request by the DA for the establishment of an ad hoc committee for extended oversight over the executive during the Covid-19 lockdown.
DA leader John Steenhuisen wrote to the then National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise asking her to set up a special committee to specifically monitor the work of the government during the lockdown.
Modise’s deputy, Lechesa Tsenoli, responded saying existing portfolio committees of the National Assembly were equipped and had the necessary powers to deal with the matters raised in Steenhuisen’s correspondence, in line with their continued oversight and monitoring role.
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