Original Research

COVID-19 disaster response: South African disaster managers’ faith in mandating legislation tested?

Olivia Kunguma, Alice Ncube, Mosekama O. Mokhele
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 13, No 1 | a1099 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v13i1.1099 | © 2021 Olivia Kunguma, Alice Ncube, Mosekama O. Mokhele | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 January 2021 | Published: 06 September 2021

About the author(s)

Olivia Kunguma, Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa, Faculty of Natural & Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Alice Ncube, Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa, Faculty of Natural & Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Mosekama O. Mokhele, Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa, Faculty of Natural & Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


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Abstract

For the first time in the history of the Disaster Management Act, 57 of 2002, South Africa declared COVID-19 an epidemiological disaster. Section 3 and 27(1) of this Act activated the responsible Minister in consultation with other Ministers to issue regulations in response to the disaster. The declaration exposed the already criticised Act to scrutiny by the public. Therefore, this study investigated the Metropolitan Disaster Management Centres that coordinate local events and support the provincial and national disaster management centres, their perceptions concerning the disaster management legislation that mandates them. The study recognised a gap in this regard and saw it imperative to give the disaster managers a voice and a platform to express their opinion concerning the heavily criticised legislation. A model of the policy implementation process guided the study investigation. This model argues that implementation of policies tends to generate tensions, which result in a disruption of the policy formulators’ expectations. The research uses some of the model’s variables to measure the perceptions of disaster managers. Using an interview guide, the researchers conducted virtual interviews with the disaster managers. Scholarly and media articles review concerning the Act formed part of the data collection. The study finds that the disaster managers perceive the disaster management legislation as a very useful guide, an excellent piece of legislation and trust it regardless of the criticism it received. The gaps the critics identified in the legislation became evident and had negative effects on the COVID-19 disaster response.

Keywords

COVID-19; disaster management; disaster management legislation; disaster managers.

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