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Govt’s handling of KZN flood disaster had poor coordination, concedes Mabuza

Facing a barrage of questions from MPs during a question-and-answer session in the National Council of Provinces, Deputy President David Mabuza on Thursday conceded that government’s handling of the KwaZulu-Natal flood disaster had glaring weaknesses, which included poor coordination, project management and contracting and inadequate risk management.

Asked about government’s delay in processing food relief funds for KwaZulu-Natal communities affected by the flood disaster earlier this year, Mabuza was frank: “The process has not been smooth as we anticipated. Even though we have the multidisciplinary systems, there were still problems with planning, execution and keeping track of projects.

“We established later during the audit of progress we have made during the period we had set ourselves to complete this process, observed weaknesses – prevalence of old challenges which resulted in serious delays in meeting delivery deadlines.”

The challenges, said Mabuza, included poor coordination, integration, sharing of capacity and resources between all spheres of government.

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This, he said, could have mitigated against inadequate identification and the measurement of the extent of the damage; poor project management, including tight planning, budgeting and execution; poor contracting, including pricing and monitoring of project delivery timelines and inadequate risk management processes, including procurement risks and supply chain management weaknesses. There were also unnecessary delays caused by red tape and tedious disaster response procedures.

“Roads, bridges, water, sanitation, telecommunications, powerlines, public schools and health facilities were affected. Collectively, this impacted on the delivery of basic services.

“In response to the flood disaster that occurred in April, that led to destruction and affected municipalities, the government responded by sending a multisectoral response team in a threepronged approach to better co-ordinate our response.”

Turning to energy crisis, Mabuza said the established political task team on Eskom was “seized with expending the correction of plant defects at the Medupi and Kusile power stations to ensure that the grid has additional 1 000 megawatts of baseload capacity to address the load-shedding problem”.

“It is common cause that Eskom continues to experience inconsistent supply of electricity, due to plant breakdowns. In the main, challenges centered around the limitations of the ageing fleet, the inability to keep up with the demands of unplanned maintenance and repairs – inevitably inadequate energy generation capacity, resulted in declining energy availability.

“This led to sustained power outages during July, thereby attracting a public backlash that prompted a Cabinet discussion on further measures to immediately halt what was becoming a perennial national electricity supply failure.”

– brians@citizen.co.za

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