CoGTA Minister dragging her feet on signing the SADC Disaster Management agreement

Issued by Jacques Smalle MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA)
13 Sep 2023 in News

The DA is calling on the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Thembi Nkadimeng, to stop dragging her feet and urgently sign the agreement that establishes the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC). The Centre cannot be fully operationalised until at least 16 SADC countries have signed the agreement, and so far only 10 have signed it. South Africa is one of the countries that are yet to sign.

Located in Mozambique, SHOC is responsible for coordinating regional disaster risk preparedness, response, and early recovery efforts to support Member States affected by disasters. It plays a crucial role in managing the supply of equipment and supplies needed by SADC responders during humanitarian deployments.

Southern Africa is highly vulnerable to climate change and has of late been experiencing high-impact climate extreme events. As such, South Africa’s failure to sign the SHOC agreement will place the country at significant risk should disaster strike. The KZN floods were a devastating reminder that the country cannot operate as an island and it needs all the help it can get.

The recent devastating earthquake that hit the village of Algoa , Morocco which wiped out nearly half of the population, highlights the quest for formal regulations and laws that guide the approach and assistance of humanitarian and emergency operations both abroad and in South Africa.

Southern Africa has in the last five years experienced an increase in weather-related phenomena like droughts and tropical cyclones. The effects of these disasters hamper efforts to address poverty, food security and infrastructure development.

Considering the increasing frequency and severity of disaster events in the SADC region, the Council of Ministers approved interim activities for the operationalization of the SHOC during their March 2022 meeting.

The signing of a MOU aims to enhance the coordination, preparedness and rapid responses to disasters but also sets up the legal basis for the operational team to function during such a disaster and cope with the various sets of legal frameworks any country may have.

There are treaties between countries that may give effect to operate and it is important to note that there are numerous instruments regulating the management of specific types of disasters or emergencies.

The DA calls on Minister Thembi Nkadimeng to urgently sign the MOU and also to develop a set of guidelines and regulations equal to that of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.