President shouldn’t extend state of disaster without Parliament’s approval
9 February 2021
Note to Editors: Please find attached a soundbite by Cilliers Brink MP.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to submit any possible extension of the national state of disaster to Parliament for approval and review.
The present state of disaster comes to an end on Monday, 15 February, and South Africans are tired of accepting without question and debate the national government's decisions on how to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.
After months of economically ruinous lockdown and the bungling of the Covid-19 vaccine, the government is still refusing to disclose crucial details about the procurement and rollout of the vaccine.
South Africans should not be forced to go to court every time we need explanations from government. That is why we have Parliament. Moreover, the power to make laws should be with Parliament.
But the risk of South Africa being governed under a perpetual state of national disaster with little parliamentary oversight and no parliamentary control go beyond Covid-19 pandemic.
As it is now being interpreted by government, section 27 of the Disaster Management Act has created a de facto state of emergency with government assuming wide-ranging powers of every aspect of South African life.
But unlike a state of emergency, the government’s decisions under a state of disaster is not subject to a parliamentary veto, and so there is also little legislative control over what government is doing in the name of fighting Covid-19.
Restoring and protecting Parliament’s legislative and oversight powers is also what our constitutional challenge to section 27 of the Disaster Management Act aims to achieve.
The matter is in court today, and depending on the outcome of the case the DA will also propose amendments to the Disaster Management Act in Parliament.
Issued byCilliers Brink,DA Shadow Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, 9 February 2021