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Media Statement: SAHRC statement on engagements with the Democratic Alliance (Gauteng and KZN)

Attention: Editors and Reporters

02 November 2022

The South African Human Rights Commission (the SAHRC) confirms that it has interacted with both the national and certain provincial structures (KZN & Gauteng) of the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the past few days. It is aware of the protest marches by regional structures of the DA to two of the SAHRC’s provincial offices as well as the media interest in the wake of such protests.

On 31 October 2022, the DA lodged a complaint with the Gauteng provincial office of the SAHRC, complaining of the lack of access to water for residents in the Gauteng province. In particular the matter of Rand Water curtailing the usage of water during the past few weeks. The SAHRC has been and continues to monitor and assess the water supply to residents not only of Gauteng but all provinces. The Commission would like to alert the public that South Africa is and will continue to be a water-scarce country. The increased demand for water especially in our urban areas must be accompanied by considered and sustainable usage of this scarce resource. Like all other complaints received by the Commission, the DA’s complaint will be assessed and handled in terms of our complaints handling procedures.   

At the end of July 2022, the KZN provincial office of the SAHRC received a complaint from the regional structure of the DA. The complaint related to concerns with the plight of victims that had been displaced by floods and who were being sheltered in the various mass care centers.  The SAHRC, through its KZN provincial office (KZNPO), has been monitoring and continues to do so on behalf of and with a view to protecting the rights of flood victims. This work has been ongoing since the floods hit the KZN province in April 2022. The Commission has also done likewise in the province of the Eastern Cape parts of which were also affected by floods earlier this year.

The KZN flood disaster brought about unprecedented devastation and suffering, in addition to loss of many lives. Many people were left in need of many things – shelter, food, water and sanitation, health care, security, access to education for school-going children, among others. Consequently, countless requests and complaints were received by the Commission and other entities. Many dealt with the same issue. For example, many of the complaints related to lack of access to clean water. The thrust of the Commission’s efforts has been to ensure that communities receive access to their basic needs and are finally permanently resettled.

Soon after the floods, the SAHRC reinforced its efforts in KZN by establishing a task team comprising, among others, three Commissioners, to assess the extent of the devastation and needs that pertained and, in this regard, to liaise with civil society organisations and relevant government entities. In mobilizing other stakeholders, the SAHRC approached, among others, the Forum of Institutions Supporting Democracy (FISD), including the office of the Auditor General and proposed a joint effort towards helping the victims of the floods in KZN and strengthening financial accountability. Civil society partners continue to be helpful at this stage of the response to the disaster. The Commission also established a monitoring framework to guide institutional responses to the flood disaster. The primary aim of the Commission was to liaise with the KZN provincial government and to draw its attention to areas of need, especially dire need, to monitor the rebuilding plans of the provincial government, to liaise with relevant national government departments, where necessary, to hold the government accountable for its commitments, actions as well as the resources utilized towards providing relief to flood victims, especially relief to avoid hunger.

In this regard, the SAHRC has held several engagements with the Premier of KZN and Members of the Executive Committees, during which the provincial government shared their response plans and also accounted for the implementation thereof.  As part of the process, the SAHRC has, met with the Minister of Human Settlements, Hon. Mmamoloko Kubayi, delegates from relevant provincial departments, the City of EThekwini and other stakeholders, to seek updates on measures being implemented to fast-track durable solutions, especially with reference to housing. However, the focus of the interventions of the SAHRC has not been limited to housing, access to water or food only but has covered all the needs of flood victims especially where rights are, or have a high risk of being violated.

While the Commission has received considerable support and cooperation from many stakeholders, there are challenges and constraints that pertain. Section 27(2) and section 26(2) of the Constitution make the obligations of the state to provide access to adequate housing, sufficient food and water and social security dependent on available resources and progressive realization. The Commission working with Parliament will continue strengthening its oversight role within this context and will endeavor to work to bring durable solutions to the victims of the floods in both provinces.

The South African Human Rights Commission remains open to engage with all stakeholders in the country, especially as far as human rights are concerned, and has recently agreed to a further engagement with the Democratic Alliance in the near future.

ENDS

Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission

Wisani Baloyi – Acting Communications Coordinator Tel: 081 016 8308 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Alucia Sekgathume – External Communications Tel: 082 689 2364 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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