Impact of climate change at the top of Minister Kubayi’s agenda

South African Minister of Human Settlements, Mmamoloko Kubayi, is leading the SA delegation in Davos. Minister Kubayi has personally been navigating the KZN destruction caused by the devastating floods in the South African province, so the conversations on the impact of climate change have been right at the top of her agenda.

Minister Mmamaloko Kubayi on South Africa’s position on the Davos agenda

I’m feeling very optimistic, with quite a lot of insight, having to clear South Africa’s position and where we stand on a number of issues. And to see several South African businesspeople who are very active. I’ve had interactions with them – met with them individually and within the corridors – and they have given me positive feedback. It’s good to be back in Davos.

On whether South Africa is being positively received

It is positively received, though there were concerns around our stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Some of the issues relate not only to South Africa, but the continent. So, I had two or three meetings where this matter came up and there was no understanding why the majority of the countries on the African continent abstained. I think the congressman, who is the chairman of International Relations in the US, went around to ask the ambassadors of the African countries why they abstained. They said no one has engaged us; the world has forgotten that we exist and you just cannot automatically expect us to participate in something where we don’t exist. And I thought that was classic. But it is starting to dawn. If we are to work together, we must be equal partners. We must also look at all our interests and see if this is best for everybody else, including the continent. So, that was quite good feedback to hear. The commitment to continue to engage the continent, to engage leaders and make sure that whatever is being done is also in the best interest of Africa. 

On climate finance support from the developed world

We are hoping so. We hope we don’t have the same problem we have seen with many other agreements. COP26 had this commitment that we were trying to fine[tune]. What does it mean? How is it? And it shouldn’t be. So, everybody is saying, let’s be transparent about the funds. This should not be a burden to the continent and emerging markets. They should be there to assist. You talk to many businesses and they say no. If this is about loans, for example, in South Africa – between ourselves as government and the private sector – we can fundraise enough because we have a conducive environment for investment. We’ve seen quite a lot of investment in South Africa. One of the investors invested in an energy plant in the Northern Cape is doing so well. So, it is quite a lot we have to pay attention to but we are saying to global communities, especially developed countries: let’s not pay lip service to what we commit to.

On how the KZN floods have impacted the South African economy

It is not only just destruction of properties, but destruction of our economy. I mean, Transnet had to issue a statement yesterday where the port malfunctioned for some time. It affects the export market, import market. It affects not only South Africa, but the region where what we get at the Durban port goes to the better part of the continent. When those goods cannot be moved, it affects our economy and there are issues of food security. So, climate change is a reality. It impacts us but we are having to pay a heavy price as developing countries in terms of resources. I look at my budget, you know, we are having to spend huge amounts of money. With the last disaster, we estimated almost R1.6bn that we have to put in to respond to the disaster. We are taking from the normal service delivery money to respond to the disaster. Now we have a new disaster this weekend. We’re quantifying the damage. We are going into more than R2bn already and we have not yet calculated the roads, bridges, water and sanitation, schools, clinics or hospitals that have been destroyed. This is not the only disaster. It seems we have many in other provinces. The whole landscape and how we do developments has to change.

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