R. Tandlich, T. G. Chirenda, Sh. Hoossein, D. Pyle
Monday 5 August 2013 by Libadmin2013

References: 13th SGEM GeoConference on Water Resources. Forest, Marine And Ocean Ecosystems, www.sgem.org, SGEM2013 Conference Proceedings, ISBN 978-619-7105-02-5 / ISSN 1314-2704, June 16-22, 2013, 471 - 478 pp


South Africa is prone to several weather-related natural disasters and so weather forecasting is of fundamental importance for disaster management in the country. This activity is governed by the South African Weather Service Act no. 8 of 2001. This act constitutes the South African Weather Service as the national weather forecasting body and specifies its disaster management responsibilities. Most of the disaster management obligations have been met, but shortages were identified through the analysis of public documents in the skills development and the forecasting errors. To address these problems and legislatively formulate the newly developed early warning systems, the South African Weather Service Amendment Bill was introduced to parliament in January 2012. It would centralize the disaster warning in the South African Weather Service and make it illegal for any person to disseminate information about severe weather system in South Africa without the prior written permission from that institution. The main reasons for the proposed changes are streamlining of the weather-related disaster warning systems and prevention of forecasting errors. Criminal penalties for violators of the bill would include five to ten years imprisonment or fines ranging from 560 000 to 1.11 million USD. Concerns have been raised by the NGOs working in disaster relief and reconstruction, commercial weather-forecasting businesses and weather forecasting networks and private citizens about the bill. Main concerns included limits to the freedom of speech and the ability of the South African Weather Service to accurately predict severe weather. Both the Act and the Proposed Bill are analyzed in the context of the South African disaster management system its and viability.

Keywords: South African Weather Service, NGOs, parliamentary submission.