The ongoing state of disaster is due to expire on Saturday 15 Jauary, unless it is renewed, and this has prompted the Democratic Alliance (DA) to call on President Cyril Ramaphosa to put an end to the current state of affairs.
On Tuesday party leader John Steenhuisen released a statement detailing reasons why the laws were no longer necessary in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
“On the contrary, it is doing South Africa more harm than good, by undermining our social, economic and democratic recovery,” said Steenhuisen.
He said that the laws that were put in place since March 2020 had long served their purpose to relieve pressure on the health system.
“Covid hospitalisation rates are now low across the country, immunity rates (from vaccines or prior infection) are high across the population, the Omicron variant has been shown to be less severe, excess deaths have been mostly normal since September, and the health system has had ample time to prepare in the unlikely event of a new variant that evades immunity.”
Back in July last year the Constitutional Court dismissed the party’s application for a direct access to it, while challenging the regulations of the Disaster Management Act.
That meant that it (DA) had to follow the standard route of first having the case heard in the high court, which later also dismissed their application.
Currently the party is appealing that dismissal by the High Court.
Steenuhuisen said that it was “unconstitutional for a government to use the Disaster Management Act to bypass democratic institutions indefinitely, as the Ramaphosa administration is currently doing.
“The pandemic has become endemic in South Africa. We need to get back to living normal lives, and accept that the virus will continue to circulate, as other viruses do.
“Children need to get back to having normal childhoods.”John Steenhuisen
He said that rules such as “outdoor mask-wearing, hand sanitizing, temperature screening, and contact tracing, testing and isolation of asymptomatic contacts have little benefit and come at enormous social cost.”
Steenhuisen explained that these rules have become self-evidently irrational, which is why even law-abiding people are “disregarding them en masse”.
“This is undermining the rule of law, and distracting law enforcement from preventing real crimes that have a real impact on public safety. These rules must be scrapped, and only rational protocols kept, which can be justified on a cost-benefit analysis, such as masking in high-risk settings.”