President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised that there will be real-time audits done of all state funds allocated to the victims of the recent floods.

Addressing a joint sitting of Parliament on Tuesday, 26 April, Ramaphosa said it’s disappointing that the public debate in the immediate aftermath of the disaster was that government officials would loot the disaster relief funds. “It is a great source of shame that when this disaster struck, the most burning public debate was around fears that the resources allocated to respond to this disaster would be misappropriated or wasted.”

Ramaphosa assured Members of Parliament that they will not tolerate corruption: “Working together with National Treasury, the Auditor-General will conduct real-time audits on the emergency flood relief funds. This will provide independent assurance on whether public funds have been appropriately accounted for and were used for their intended purpose.”

“These audits aim to prevent, detect and report on the findings to ensure an immediate response to prevent leakage, potential fraud, and wastage.”

While opposition parties criticized Ramaphosa and the national government’s response to the tragedy, the President insists at this time of mourning; government is doing all it can to assist flood victims.

 

 

 

 

MP’s have been told the National Assembly suffered severe structural damage, concrete floors have crumbled, mosquitos are breeding in millions of litres of water that still remains in the flooded lower basement, and there are fears that a rotten egg smell through the new assembly is caused by highly flammable hydrogen sulphide.

These are just some of the findings of engineers from the Coega Development Corporation which on Friday presented their initial assessment of the damage caused by the fire that ravaged Parliament on 2 January.

The Corporation was appointed by the Public Works and Infrastructure Department to assess the fire damage and develop a renovation plan.

The presentation was led by Christo Beukes, the programme manager.

Beukes revealed that:

  • There is “severe structural damage to the central concrete structure of the National Assembly from the 2nd floor to the 6th floor;
  • The temperature in the National Assembly entrance lobby reached an estimated 900ºC. As a result metal ducting and copper wiring melted;
  • Heat generated when the massive wooden speaker’s podium went up in flames caused “extremely significant damage” to the concrete floor above it;
  • Floors sagged by as much as 70mm as concrete slabs crumbled, and walls were left with cracks of about 30mm;
  • The lower basement was found to be flooded to a depth of more than 1.7m with an estimated 4.2-million litres of water. “Huge breeding of mosquitoes” took place in the water;
  • There are fears that a rotten-egg smell through the new assembly building is caused by highly flammable hydrogen sulphide.

The water is currently being pumped into the City’s sewer system.

Once the basement is accessible, Beukes says the smell of gas would be investigated and remedied, and debris will be removed from the destroyed roof.

A 1.8-metre security hoarding is to be built around the National Assembly.

Coega’s next job is to produce a detailed assessment of the damage, which will cover the residual strength of the structure of the uninsured buildings as well as proposals and cost estimates for repairs.

Sections of the National Assembly has been blocked off
Sections of the National Assembly have been deemed no go zones. Pic: Coega Development Corporation
Wall crack on the 4th floor of the National Assembly building
A 30mm wall crack on the 4th floor of the National Assembly. Pic: Coega Development Corporation
The flooded National Assembly basement
The flooded National Assembly basement. Pic: Coega Development Corporation

Also read:

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the work of Parliament will continue despite the devastating fire that broke out, in the historic complex yesterday.

The State alleges suspected fire starter wanted to ‘destroy’ Parliament

IN PICS: Parliament fire causes significant damage, 49 year old man to appear in court tomorrow

Deputy President David Mabuza says government is looking at repurposing up to 7 of Eskom’s power plants, to ensure a more reliable electricity supply to the national grid.

Mabuza was answering questions in Parliament yesterday and said the bouts of loadshedding the country experiences have had a severe negative impact on the economy.

Mabuza says there is also currently a greater drive to incorporate renewable-energy sources into South Africa’s energy mix.

Watch Mabuza’s full address here.

Related articles:

Taxpayers are set to fork around R4-million for this year’s State of the Nation Address proceedings.
This year’s SONA will, like in 2020, be hosted in a hybrid fashion.
Some delegates will attend the event in person at the Cape Town City Hall, while others will attend the event virtually.
The acting secretary of Parliament, Baby Tyawa says extra expenses have to be budgeted for, this year, after the fire at Parliament in January.

The amount includes the cost of proceedings for the post-SONA debates and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s reply.

Tyawa says the 2020 SONA cost taxpayers around R208,000.

Access the full Parliamentary briefing here.

Related articles:

The speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says the State of The Nation Address (SONA) will not be postponed.

On Sunday morning shortly after 6 am a fire broke out in the offices of the Old Assembly and quickly spread to the National Assembly.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is meant to deliver the SONA to the Joint Sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces on Thursday, 10 February at 7 pm.

In a briefing that took place while firefighters were still battling to contain the blaze, Mapisa Nqakula said: “Ours is to find an alternative venue to now hold this State of the Nation Address.”

President Ramaphosa was being briefed throughout the day about the fire and the initial extent of the damage.

Mapisa-Nqakula also asked that people not speculate as the cause of the fire until this has been determined as the result of an investigation that has already begun: “My plea with those on social media is that, until such a time that a report has been furnished that there was arson, we have to be careful not to make suggestions that there was an attack.”