Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has extended the national State of Disaster by another month.
Dlamini-Zuma gazetted the extension on Wednesday, announcing the national State of Disaster has been extended until 15 February.
This was done “taking into account the need to continue augmenting the existing legislation and contingency arrangements undertaken by organs of state to address the impact of the disaster”
Government initially declared a national State of Disaster on 15 March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Disaster Management Act used by government during the Covid-19 crisis gives President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Cabinet carte blanche to extend the period without parliamentary oversight.
Unlike a State of Emergency, which would have ensured government’s accountability to parliament, the disaster regulations enabled Ramaphosa to “run the show indefinitely without supervision by [members of parliament],” according to Accountability Now director, advocate Paul Hoffman.
He maintained the Act, which was “drafted with floods, fires, and droughts in mind – nothing to do with viruses at all,” was a bad law to regulate Covid-19.
“In applying legislation, government went for a state of disaster instead of an emergency because the president and ministers get carte blanche powers to run the show without parliamentary supervision.
“Under a state of emergency, enshrined in the constitution, there would have been far more stringent conditions applying, as well as supervision by parliament. No wonder why they chose to use the Disaster Management Act.
Additional reporting by Brian Sokutu