Urgent call for Minister of COGTA to sign SADC Disaster Management Protocol

Issued by Jacques Smalle – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs
08 Dec 2023 in News

The DA urgently calls on the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Thembi Nkadimeng, to promptly endorse the Southern African Development Community Disaster Management (SADC) protocol. Furthermore, we urge the minister to heed the call made by Minister Naledi Pandor and institutionalise a set of norms and standards equal to that of the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG).

Minister Naledi Pandor, in her role as the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), has emphasised the necessity for an emergency operations center for SADC. However, in response to our inquiry (Reference: 3841-2023-11-27), the Minister of COGTA has cited procedural constraints, particularly the need for comments from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJCD) before signing the SADC Disaster Management protocol. This highlights a concerning lack of alignment within the ANC executive regarding emergency operations that impact South Africa both on the international and domestic fronts.

The INSARAG, established within the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs, mandates certain guiding principles and standards for member countries, as per resolutions passed in 1991 (57/150 & 46/182). Despite South Africa being a member, the country has yet to meet these established principles.

On February 27, 2014, South Africa formulated and published the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Framework Policy, aimed at developing USAR capacity in the country. Regrettably, adherence to these guiding principles has not been achieved to date.

Urban Search and Rescue is a complex, multi-disciplinary skill requiring international technical rescue certification (NFPA 1006) as issued by the South African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI) or Advanced Medical Rescue Certification (SAQA 64229).

The Department’s inconsistent approach, neglecting critical aspects outlined in the INSARAG guidelines, such as funding arrangements, capacity requirements, regulations, and entities mandated to participate in Emergency Search and Rescue (ESAR) and SADC activities, jeopardizes the safety not only of South Africa’s rescue personnel but also compromises joint efforts conducted by the country.

We urgently call on the Minister of COGTA to prioritize the signing of the SADC Disaster Management protocol and address the shortcomings highlighted to ensure the safety and effectiveness of South Africa’s emergency response capabilities.

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