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State of disaster could last three months: What you need to know

Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the national state of disaster would likely last for three months with the possibility of an extension. File photo.
Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the national state of disaster would likely last for three months with the possibility of an extension. File photo.
Image: GCIS

The national state of disaster in response to the floods in KwaZulu-Natal could last three months. 

This is according to co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who was briefing media this week after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on the deadly floods in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

At least 443 people have died in KZN, with about 48 people still unaccounted for. Nearly 4,000 homes were destroyed and more than 40,000 people displaced.

Why will the state of disaster be in place for three months?

Dlamini-Zuma said it would likely last three months with the possibility of the government extending it. The minister said the state of disaster has been gazetted and is in line with section 3 of the Disaster Management Act. 

“The act allows up to three months and if it needs to be terminated early, it can be. It also allows for an extension. So the initial period will be three months, and then an assessment will be made to extend or not,” said Dlamini-Zuma.

What will be different this time?

According to Dlamini-Zuma, this national state of disaster will be different from the Covid-19 state of disaster, “which was occasioned by a health occurrence, the pandemic. This is a national disaster that is cutting across almost every sector and infrastructure.

“For instance, the water, electricity, transport and residential infrastructure. The humanitarian, search and rescue are different from the pandemic which was a health issue,” she said.

Dlamini-Zuma said humanitarian aid was important because displaced people mostly needed food, blankets and accommodation. 

Why is it not a provincial state of disaster?

Dlamini-Zuma said the reclassification of the provincial state of disaster to a national state of disaster was because not only KwaZulu-Natal was affected by heavy rains but also other parts of the country, including the Eastern Cape. 

“The benefits of reclassifying it as a national disaster include that the primary responsibility to co-ordinate and manage the disaster is assigned to the national sphere of government,” said Dlamini-Zuma.

She said the declaration of a national disaster strengthens the commitment of national government departments to fulfil their role in providing relief, recovery and rehabilitation to affected communities.

“The declaration signals that government as a whole intends to deal with the impact of the severe weather on KZN and other provinces in an even more holistic manner through an integrated and co-ordinated approach across the spheres of government and employing the district development model,” she said. 

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