Statement: Cry of the Xcluded urges the government to increase the budget for fighting against natural disasters!

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The Cry of the Xcluded urges the South African government to increase the budget for fighting against natural disasters as the country is grappling with a catastrophic climate crisis. 

Flooding in Mbombela, Mpumalanga. PHOTO: Supplied

This week three people lost their lives following heavy rains and floods in Mpumalanga Province. According to reports, ​​heavy rains have left a trail of destruction in the Nkomazi, Bushbuckridge and Mbombela municipalities. At the same time, in the Eastern Cape, one person died and more than 1 000 people were displaced in Komani as floods wreak havoc in the province. 

Today, the South African Weather Service issued a weather warning for several provinces, including the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. These events have highlighted how vulnerable we all are to the consequences of changes in weather patterns and climate change, a global crisis that is having a disproportionate impact on the world’s most vulnerable populations, including poor communities like the Silvertown informal settlement in Komani where residents are reportedly refusing to leave their flood-ravaged homes because they feared criminals would take their belongings. 

In Cape Town, hundreds of people were left homeless in KTC and Phillipi after a fire broke out in an informal settlement following load-shedding. And in 2021, the City of Cape Town announced that it would no longer supply emergency kits, which included building materials, to victims of fires and flooding unless the incidents have been formally declared a disaster. It is despicable that almost three decades into our democracy, the poor and the marginalised continue to live in inhumane conditions as the South African government fails to deliver on its promise of a better life for all.  We put blame on the government for failing to provide decent houses and other services for the citizens.  

Climate change is being witnessed throughout South Africa and the government has a crucial role to play in mitigating its effects to protect our environment and the well-being of our citizens. Climate change is also increasing the risk of flooding in some parts of South Africa, particularly in low-lying areas and informal settlements. This is causing damage to homes and infrastructure and putting people’s lives at risk. 

We call on the government to invest in climate adaptation measures to help communities adapt to the effects of climate change. This includes infrastructure improvements, early warning systems, and disaster preparedness. 

As the Cry of the Xcluded, we call on South Africans to offer what they can to support relief efforts in the affected provinces. Let us show our humanity. Food items, personal hygiene items and clothing are most needed. 

Moving further afield, our hearts are also with the people of Turkey and Syria following the devastating earthquakes that claimed over 41000 lives, and sadly, in the aftermath,  the numbers are still climbing daily. And the people of New Zealand after cyclone Gabrielle killed four people and left thousands displaced. It is crucial that we work together to address the climate crisis and ensure that the most vulnerable populations are protected and supported.  

Yet, interventions for natural disasters at a local level have been less than satisfactory. It is important to monitor the government. The Ad Hoc Joint Committee on Flood Disaster Relief and Recovery in August 2022 revealed that “at the end of July 2022, R5.3 billion had been made available for disaster response. The amount included R4.6 billion that was allocated through reprioritisation. To date, only R674 million of the R1 billion made available for immediate relief had been approved for disbursement.” These are the numbers only – seeing local people as part of the solution, providing training and mitigating as far as possible needs to happen urgently.

For media comments please contact: 

  • Matthews Hlabane,  Cry of the Xcluded and Southern Africa Green Revolutionary Council (SAGRC) Coordinator: 082 707 9860  
  • Motsi Khokhoma,  Cry of the Xcluded and Botshabelo Unemployed Movement Coordinator: 073 490 7623