Government mulls continuing state of disaster

The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is trying to decide on a way forward to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is considering whether or not the country will continue with the national state of disaster legislation currently in place.

The legislation was first declared by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma nearly two years ago as a response to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.

“We are examining how best we should handle the state of disaster in this period where the infections have tapered down, and to see the efficacy of using the state of disaster legislation or utilising other measures.

“The National Coronavirus Command Council is examining exactly that to see whether we can use health protocols, health regulations to move forward in our management of this pandemic,” President Ramaphosa said in a statement released on Thursday.

ALSO READ: State of Disaster extended to 15 February 2022

Although many have challenged the use of the legislation, the President said it has allowed government to navigate through the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact.

President Ramaphosa said the decision on whether to continue on with the National State of Disaster is a “collective process”, however, and any decision on it must be based on rationality.

“We are government. We’ve got to be very rational in everything that we do so we are examining that.

“If [we do not drop the legislation], then we will have a very rational explanation to say why we should continue with the State of Disaster legislation,” he said.

Calls to scrap state of disaster

The Democratic Alliance (DA) earlier this month called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to put an end to the current state of affairs.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said the legislation was “doing South Africa more harm than good, by undermining our social, economic and democratic recovery”.

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.

When Dlamini-Zuma extended the state of disaster last week, DA Federal Council chairperson Helen Zille said in a Twitter rant the extension of the national State of Disaster had nothing to do with Covid-19, but rather the government’s attempt at maintaining “centralised control”.

“Extending the State of Disaster now has nothing to do with fighting Covid, and everything to do with maintaining centralised control without oversight or accountability. It is time to call a halt,” Zille tweeted.

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