Cabinet has approved the extension of the national state of disaster by one month, in terms of Section 27(5) (c) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (57 of 2002).
This is after the Cabinet met on Wednesday ahead President Cyril Ramaphosa’s the State of the Nation Address (Sona), which is set to be delivered address at 7pm on Thursday from the National Assembly.
The national state of disaster will be gazetted and officially extended from 15 February to 15 March by Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
The multiple extensions of the state of disaster has come under fire having been declared in March 2020.
Many argued that the Disaster Management Act gave government complete freedom to act as they wished by extending the period without parliamentary oversight.
Accountability Now director Paul Hoffman noted that unlike a state of emergency, which would have ensured government’s accountability to parliament, the disaster regulations enabled Cabinet to “run the show indefinitely without supervision by [members of parliament].”
Hoffman maintained that 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,” he said.