Hon. Members and Honoured Guests
Today we meet in this Special Sitting of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature as a province in mourning. Allow me, Hon. Speaker, to start by expressing the deepest condolences, on behalf of the IFP, to all families who lost their loved ones during this tragedy. Our hearts and prayers are with all the people of our province who have been directly and indirectly affected by the disastrous floods. We mourn with all families who have lost their loved ones.
We also wish a speedy recovery to all those who are still in different hospitals and health centres. The same message of solidarity goes to all businesspeople, individuals, families, and various sectors of our province who have been victims of the disastrous floods
Honourable Members, it has never happened, at least in this democratic era, that the rains of just two-and-a-half to three days, caused so much destruction to humanity, to property and to infrastructure. KwaZulu-Natal now finds itself plunged into another crisis. Our province was still recovering from the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic and the shattering effects of the July 2021 civil unrest. Our recovery efforts now have to deal with the effects of triple disasters happening within a space of just two successive years.
The IFP welcomes the responsible decision by the government of South Africa to declare KwaZulu-Natal a national disaster area due to these floods. The kind of damage that this province has suffered was never going to be properly fixed on the basis of a provincial disaster declaration only. The hard reality, Hon. Premier, is that the announcement of the billions of rands to be injected into KwaZulu-Natal as relief measures, instead of being received with gratitude, was received with great cynicism, as many people believe that this money will be stolen by those in power, together with their friends. A trust deficit towards government is a major challenge in our country.
This is no doubt a very challenging time for the leadership of our province. It is a time when unity of purpose will count more than anything else for the benefit of our province. It is a time that calls more for genuine, ethical and servant leadership. This is a time when the civil servants of our province have to perform their responsibilities and daily activities beyond the call of duty.
This is no time to be looking at what is in it for me but time to say let us channel all the resources to our people. This is no time to be eyeing enormous profits at the expense of people’s miseries. This is no time to be looking for political strides and political mileage when people are suffering livelihood losses. This is no time for political side-lining to make political names and increase political visibility.
This is a time to demonstrate Ubuntu and humanitarianism.
As leaders of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, it is the time to prove ourselves, and to show that we each have a conscience. This is the opportunity to turn the misery of the flood disaster into an opportunity for swiftly uplifting our people and providing them with decent and dignified housing and other services.
The IFP expresses great appreciation to humanitarian organisations that have lent a hand in helping our people out of their plight and the miseries and hardships of their different situations. The Gift of the Givers is one such organisation that has become a trailblazer in humanitarian activities in the province. We express gratitude to the Motsepe Foundation for their generosity and helping hands. We applaud the services of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Collen Mashawana Foundation for their helping hands too. We also applaud the efforts of countless other organisations that have been very busy on the ground helping the people of our province in different forms.
The IFP also takes this opportunity to salute His Majesty, King MisuZulu KaZwelithini, and the entire Zulu Royal Family, for the King’s Leadership at this trying time. Even before the Official Coronation of His Majesty, the King is showing us that He is indeed a King fit for purpose.
The destruction of infrastructure in the roads, bridges, schools, water services, electricity, railway lines and government buildings, all mean that we have to work with speed, resilience, and precision as a province in order to get things back to normal. The damage to people’s properties, businesses, houses, and other household amenities has caused a great drawback in the lives of our people.
Tourism has been greatly impacted. City centres and shopping complexes have suffered. The transport industry, including the public taxi service, has suffered enormous losses. In short, livelihoods have been destroyed. This is what we are faced with as a province, and this is what we have to contend with in order to recover.
The IFP appeals to insurance companies to conduct their services with compassion as they face numerous applications from their clients. We appeal to debtors to also conduct their business with compassion, as thousands of their clients will obviously lose income and fall behind with premiums. The government departments that offer services that are key to people’s social benefits must also speedily resolve issues of the necessary paperwork in returning situations to normal. We also appeal to government not to allow the situation of people housed in community halls and temporal camps to become normal life, as has happened before. The abnormality of abnormal situations must be quickly returned to normal life.
This unfortunate occasion has shown that the issue of climate change is no longer a gospel yet to come, but an occurrence that is already with us. Countries of the world, including South Africa, have been meeting quite often to discuss the coming effects of climate change and how to best prepare for such eventualities. This is no longer a time to meet and discuss resolutions, it is time to implement that which was agreed will help save the situation. The IFP calls upon the government of our province and all the municipalities in the province to ensure compliance with all the UN mandates on climate change.
The declaration of KwaZulu-Natal as a national disaster also means that more financial resources will be directed to the province to deal with this situation. As the IFP, we will be vigilant in our oversight role to ensure that monies directed to the province do not end up lining the pockets of the greedy and unethical individuals, as happened with PPE funds. We call upon the provincial government to exercise transparency and accountability at all times and not side-line the legislature in the decisions taken.
Let us all work to stop corruption before it starts, rather than running after it. If it does happen, let us ensure that the culprits pay a price for their deeds. Hon. Premier, be rest assured of the support of the IFP in changing this disaster into the life our people have long wished for. This is now our time to rebuild and restore as a province.
We are not going to be armchair critics but will raise our voice when things take a wrong turn. The buck stops with you, Hon. Premier.
In conclusion, the IFP applauds all the personnel in the emergency services, the rescue services, health workers, the SAPS and Municipal Protection Services, Disaster Management Services and all other personnel that worked tirelessly to assist our communities during these difficult times. We also want to express our appreciation to other provinces that supported our province during the disastrous floods. To all of you we say, “Keep up the good work”. To the heroes and heroines who lost their lives in service performing their duties, we pray for your spirits to rest in perfect peace.
I thank you.