COSATU welcomes President Ramaphosa’s assenting to the National Veld and Forest Fire Amendment Bill

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s assenting to the National Veld and Forest Fire Amendment Bill.  The Federation supports this progressive Act requiring national, provincial and local government institutions to develop fire management policies and plans. It will help hold government, including State-Owned Enterprises accountable for their efforts to prevent and manage fires. 

South Africa has a long history of devastating fires.  These range from those due to overcrowding and poverty in informal areas, to fires due to alien vegetation, as well as naturally occurring veld and forestry fires.  These will occur more frequently as informal areas grow due to urban migration and particularly as climate change accelerates with vegetation becoming drier and water more scarce.

Veld and forestry fires have a devastating impact. Lives and beloved possessions are lost.  Companies and property are destroyed and workers lose their wages and jobs.  Frequently workers and the poor are not insured and are left without compensation for any injuries or losses they suffer.  These fires bleed the state due to expenditure incurred, the damage done to society and lost tax revenue.

COSATU’s support is based upon the Act’s following provisions:

  • Fire Associations

Requiring government and public entities owning land to join local fire prevention and management associations to coordinate local fire prevention and management plans. 

  • State Land

Compelling government and public entities owning land to develop fire prevention and management plans.  This is critical with government being the largest landowner holding an estimated 30% of land and often being a negligent owner.

  • No fires in restricted places

Empowering government, through the Minister for Environment, Forestry and Fisheries to prohibit fires in designated high-risk zones, e.g. nature reserves or locations closed to homes.

Whilst the Federation welcomes this progressive Act, it is critical government ensures its adequate resourcing and the respective state organs and municipalities are held accountable for its actioning.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator 
Cell: 082 785 0687