National state of disaster must go, say experts
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IS IT time for the South African government to end the State of National Disaster which was declared at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic on March 15 2020?
This is a question on the lips of some captains of industry as the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, is set to announce whether this will lapse or be extended on Saturday, January 15.
The State of National Disaster has been renewed every month on the 15th since March 2020, restricting the number of people who can gather indoors or outdoors, imposing a curfew and costing businesses millions of rand in the process.
The business industry appeared ready to do away with all restrictions following the lifting of the curfew ahead of New Year’s Eve, but the government remained adamant that the regulations were still required to manage the pandemic.
Montegray Capital and co-founder of Bank Zero Michael Jordaan, who is one of the leading figures in the investment and innovation space, was unequivocal about his views yesterday.
“It’s time to stop the national state of disaster,” Jordaan tweeted.
Jordaan’s views followed closely those of DA leader John Steenhuisen and Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, who both called for an end to the State of Disaster.
Steenhuisen on Monday said the State of Disaster was no longer necessary for managing the Covid-19 virus, but said it was doing South Africa more harm than good by undermining our social, economic and democratic recovery.
“People need to know they can invest in businesses large or small without the rules of the game suddenly changing,” he said.
“The National Coronavirus Command Council is profoundly undemocratic. There is great risk to our democracy in a small group of individuals taking decisions on our behalf without parliamentary oversight and other democratic checks on power.
“The State of Disaster has become no more than a cover for increasing centralised control and evading accountability. It must go.”
The DA is appealing the dismissal by the Gauteng North High Court to have the Disaster Management Act declared unconstitutional.
However, acting deputy director-general of the health department, Nicholas Crisp was reported in media to have said yesterday that the national state of disaster was still needed.
Crisp said regulations were needed to avoid chaos and to give effect to standing lockdown restrictions like the public mask mandate.
But the Dean of the Wits University’s faculty of health sciences and professor of vaccinology, Shabir Madhi said there was no reason to renew the state of disaster.
Madhi said the country had effectively lifted all restrictions and that it now needed to work on rebuilding the economy.
He said the National Coronavirus Command Council also needed greater oversight.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE