The Constitutional Court handed down a directive on Friday, that it will consider arguments by the Democratic Alliance (DA) in its application for direct access to challenge the Disaster Management Act in the country’s highest court.
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said in a statement: “President Cyril Ramaphosa and cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are arguing that the DA should not be granted direct access. They are effectively seeking to delay an answer to the central question of whether the national coronavirus command council (NCC) is legitimate.”
The DA has until 5 June to motivate for direct access to the Constitutional Court, while the president and Cogta minister have until 12 June to argue why such access should not be granted, Steenhuisen said.
He said the country is being led by a “secretive” council, the NCC, which is making irrational decisions without executive oversight.
Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma filed a notice with the Constitutional Court on Monday, opposing the DA’s challenge of the Disaster Management Act. They argued that the legislative powers of the Disaster Management Act are justified to respond promptly to national disasters.
Steenhuisen said: “Government is effectively usurping the legislative role, thereby disregarding the separation of powers which is the foundation of a constitutional democracy. This is simply not in the country’s best interest.
“If the Disaster Management Act does not meet constitutional muster, it means the decisions taken by the NCC under this act are not valid. This opens the way for more rationality and accountability in the management of this pandemic and of our economy going forwards,” the DA leader said.
The party maintains the lockdown has to end as the economy has been severely affected, with thousands of people losing their jobs.
(Compiled by Sandisiwe Mbhele)