Communication management during the veld fires of 23 August 2011 in the Tlokwe Local Municipality: a cautionary tale

16 August 2013

Background: A veld fire disaster in the Tlokwe Local Municipality on 23 August 2011, resulted in an estimated monetary loss of over R43 million. The veld fire disaster was characterised by a lack of strategic management and a subsequent lack of planned, coordinated communication between all role players involved. The lack of strategic communication management indirectly contributed to the losses suffered during the disaster, and afterwards relationships between many role players were strained. Objectives and method: The objectives for the qualitative research project were to determine the different role players’ perception of communication management during the veld fires of 23 August 2011, and in what way relationships between role players were affected by the lack of communication management during the veld fire disaster. Data were gathered by means of semi-structured interviews with the relevant role players.Results and conclusion: Most of the role players were convinced that communication was not managed effectively on 23 August 2011. It resulted in, most especially, a loss of trust and perceived lack of commitment between some of the role players. It is recommended that emergency services and other role players receive more training (also focusing on communication management), participate in simulations and incorporate a communication and relationship management approach to disaster risk management.