State of disaster extension more about ‘centralised control’ than Covid, says Zille

The DA is calling for Minister Dlamini-Zuma to explain decision to extend the national state of disaster.

The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Hellen Zille says that the extension of the national State of Disaster has nothing to do with Covid-19, but rather the government’s attempt at maintaining “centralised control”.

On Friday, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced that South Africa’s national state of disaster would be extended by another month.

This marks the country’s 21st extension of the regulations.

Zille took to social media on Saturday night to make these claims in a series of tweets.

“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 says.

The latest state of disaster extension is set to expire on 15 February.

By this date, the country will have been under a state of disaster for 22 months since it was first declared in March 2020.

ALSO READ: Call for Ramaphosa to end the State of Disaster

DA cries foul

The DA reiterated Zille’s tweets, and is calling for Dlamini-Zuma to explain her decision to extend the state of disaster.

“The Minister has now extended this declaration 21 consecutive times in the past two years without any account to Parliament or the South African people, and without any apparent concern for what this is doing to the constitution and the economic prospects of ordinary South Africans,” said the party’s Shadow Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Cilliers Brink.

“In essence, the minister claims that the government cannot deal with the Covid-19 pandemic under ordinary laws.

“If this claim was true at the outbreak of Covid-19, when the pandemic posed a serious risk to the health system, it is no longer true today.”

Brink said the party believed South Africa could not prosper with the “sword of another lockdown hanging over our heads”.

“Not only does a perpetual national state of disaster establish a dangerous constitutional precedent, it makes economic recovery near impossible (especially if the other constraints to growth are taken into account).”

Dlamini-Zuma, however, maintained the extension “considers the need to augment the existing legislation and contingency arrangements undertaken by the organs of state to address the impact of the disaster.”

The national state of disaster had initially been set to lapse on 15 June 2020.

However, the Disaster Management Act provides Dlamini-Zuma with the power to extend it for one month at a time before it lapses.

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