Time to Prioritize
South Africa has recently experienced floods that have seen the poorest suffer more as usual. The floods have affected seven out of nine provinces in South Africa. Houses collapsed, cars were stuck in heavy floods and, devastatingly, lives were lost. The government of South Africa estimated that over 100 lives have been lost. Residents of the flooded areas are now stranded and hope the government will provide some assistance. These hopes should not be unexpected because the government has been promising a better life for all since 1994.
The government of South Africa had a warning about the floods before they caused this irreversible damage. When the first floods occurred the government assumed that the flood impact could be contained. This was until the floods caused by heavy rains spread across the country like wild fire. The government is in a predicament: capital is needed to avoid a humanitarian crisis. The Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, notes that affected provinces are running out of allocated relief budgets. The Department of Social Development has already spent R20 million to assist the affected families. However this amount of money is not enough. Another R20 million is required to further address the damage caused by the floods.
Granted, the floods are not only a national phenomenon but are now affecting neighboring states. The important issue is the failure of the government to prioritize. The government of South Africa should have expected the floods because from late 2010 there were warnings that there would be heavy rains. The floods that were witnessed in 2009 should have acted as a warning of what to expect in the coming months. However, it seems that the government has a tendency to act only after an indecent occurs. The government is faced with the challenge of addressing the destruction of infrastructure and of farms, displaced people and loss of lives. All arguments centre on the issue of a lack of capital to address all these issues.
It is troubling that the government claims there are not enough funds to address the flood-affected areas. Just looking at the past five years, government funds have been spent carelessly. The government provides allowances, parliamentary houses, and house- and cars-allowances for ministers. The state paid for the legal fees of President Zuma during his corruption trial. The concern is that the officials get paid yet they are given all these privileges. The government of South has a reputation for spending money irresponsibly. Today seven provinces have been affected by floods and there is not enough money to address this issue. Where is the money spent while people are suffering?
Today seven provinces have been affected by floods and there is not enough money to address this issue. Where is the money spent while people are suffering?
The floods highlighted the irresponsibility and lack of prioritization of the government of South Africa. The “we are still new in the democracy” argument is an exhausted one now. The government should carefully look at the budget allocated to minister – there is no doubt that money can be spared from the budget. It is time for the government to take responsibility and stop making excuses, the people of South Africa are still waiting for the Promised Land.