The Story: Ramaphosa promises KZN flood relief funds won’t be stolen, but who believes him?

  • KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala said it would cost R5.6 billion to fix the province’s roads.
  • The government will put oversight structures in place to ensure the relief funds are not looted.
  • Corruption Watch called for transparency with regard to the relief funds. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday declared a national state of disaster in response to the catastrophic flooding in KwaZulu-Natal.

Hundreds of people have died, and thousands have been displaced.

R1 billion in relief funds has been made available to rebuild the province, but many South Africans fear the money will simply be looted, as happened during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This week on The Story, we talk to News24 journalist Lwandile Bhengu, and the executive director of Corruption Watch, Karam Singh, about concerns regarding corruption, and whether oversight structures will be enough to prevent it.

READ | Durban councillor swears resident asking for help after floods

Bhengu said “given the history of South Africa’s government and corruption, and how money has been swindled over the years, people are rightfully sceptical”.

But, she said, this disaster presented “an opportunity for the government to prove itself to the people of South Africa”.

Singh said it was understandable that there was “a cynicism and scepticism out there. I think we’re at an all-time low when it comes to trust in our public officials when it comes to safeguarding public funds”.

He said the government did not have sufficient preventative measures in place – and “we only discover corruption, once the money has already been looted”.

He said there needed to be greater transparency in the system “by ensuring the publication of data by the government, data with regard to allocation of funds for relief, and then publication of information relating to any procurement that takes place”.

Singh said it was encouraging that “we are having this debate, prior to the corruption taking place”.

But, he warned, that we were “entering dangerous territory,” and based on our recent track record, we shouldn’t be “overly encouraged that we won’t face the same challenges again”.