South Africa declares national state of disaster over floods

South Africa's Ramaphosa delivers state of the nation address
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his 2023 state of the nation address in Cape Town, South Africa, February 9, 2023. REUTERS/Esa Alexander/Pool/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 13 (Reuters) - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a national state of disaster to enable an intensive response to widespread flooding that has affected seven of the country's nine provinces.

Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape have been most affected by the floods, which were brought on by heavy rainfall as a result of the La Nina weather phenomenon, according to a statement from the office of the presidency on Monday.

Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, the Northern Cape, and North West have also experienced flooding. Invoking the national disaster act gives the government additional powers, including in the procurement and delivery of goods and services and the ability to bypass restrictions under current law.

The national police and defence force may be called on to help respond to the flooding, the statement said. The floods have resulted in wide-ranging impact, from flooded homes and vehicles to "the loss of basic infrastructure," according to the statement.

Farmers expect crop and livestock losses to continue as the government's weather service forecasts that the weather pattern will remain "during the early part of 2023," it said.

Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster last week over South Africa's power crisis, as daily rolling power cuts are paralyzing businesses.

The national disaster act was also invoked in March 2020 to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, and last April to respond to floods in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Reporting by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Caitlin Webber

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