When South Africans went to the polls on May 8, here as elsewhere voters were unlikely to have made up their minds based on foreign or regional issues. Still, they should reflect on the disasters that befell our neighbours Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. SA has not been sufficiently forward-leaning as a regional power in preventing, mitigating, responding to and helping the recovery of its neighbours, which are among the world’s poorest countries. Inaction will rebound in terms of having larger refugee and migrant populations, and poorer economic performance on the domestic front. Smart investments in regional disaster preparedness will save SA money and bring returns over the long haul.

True, the UN declared the storms that pummelled Mozambique to be “unprecedented in recorded history”. Even if it had a cutting-edge disaster risk plan, the country would have been stretched beyond capacity to cope with such monumental natural events. The World Meteorological Organisation obs...

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