Legal perspectives on the function of public- private partnerships in local disaster management in South Africa
Van der Berg, Angela
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It is anticipated that the occurrence and intensity of disasters will increase globally and in South Africa where typical disasters include droughts, floods, extreme hailstorms, gales, structural fires, as well as earthquakes and the occurrence of sinkholes in dolomitic areas arising from mining activity. Disasters such as these, result in human suffering and damage to the resources and infrastructure on which South Africans rely for their survival and the maintenance of their quality of life. In addition, such disasters impact severely on people’s economic and social activities and have particularly negative consequences for those living in vulnerable conditions due to their high levels of poverty, their lack of access to resources, their lack of education, the degradation of the environments in which they live, and the nation’s slow economic growth. Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 affords to everyone the right to an environment that is not harmful to his or her health and well-being. It may be argued that a person’s sense of environmental security in relation to the potential risks and danger of disaster falls within the scope of the protection provided by section 24. The responsibility to intervene for the protection of the interests inherent in the constitutional environmental right lies with the government of South Africa. Disaster management specifically is a functional area of competence of national and provincial government, but, practice has shown that the actual implementation of and planning for disaster management happens in the local government sphere. Against the backdrop of these introductory discussions and, given the fact that several municipalities in South Africa are under-resourced this study very specifically aims to question from a legal perspective, the potential and function of public-private partnerships (PPPs) between local government (municipalities) and the private sector (industries etc.) in fulfilling the legally entrenched disaster management duties of municipalities. Through a critical evaluation of some existing PPPs, this study illustrates that the private sector has a key role to play in assisting municipalities to fulfil their legally entrenched disaster management duties.
- Law