CAPE TOWN - The Presidency has for the first time in 20 years started to compose regulations for a state of emergency.
The state of emergency, in terms of the State of Emergency Act 64 of 1997.
According to these draft regulations, any security official will have radical influence to act within his or her own judgement, arrest individuals, search property or cut communication channels such as cellphones or the internet.
In terms of the Constitution, the president can declare a state of emergency when war, invasion, revolt or natural disasters threaten the nation’s safety.
Such as state of emergency was declared previously by former president, PW Botha on July 25, 1985. During this crisis, activists were reportedly held captive in unknown places for undetermined periods.
Approximately 575 people were killed within six months of this announcement.
The Act of 1997 replaced the apartheid-era-laws but the regulations that set out what should happen during a state of emergency have never been propagated.
According to an internal memorandum from the military, Jacob Zuma allegedly appointed a team to compose the regulations.
The security sector has also been urged over the last few weeks to provide contributions to complete the project.
According to the draft regulations, no person may write, publish or broadcast something that could be threatening to somebody else or his family.
Members of the security forces are allowed to use as much force to restore law and order as deemed necessary under the circumstances, as long as it is proportional.
Commenting on the draft regulations, President of the Cape Chamber, Janine Myburgh says that the state of emergency does not relate to economic issues, but rather to power.
"At present there is no sign of any problems which could justification a state of emergency so we must ask why the regulations are being drafted and what problems are being anticipated?
"There is no sign of hostility from outside the country so we can only assume the government is concerned about internal problems, like possible consequences flowing from this month’s ANC elective conference. President’s Zuma’s grip on power is slipping and he could become a very sore loser if the power shifts to Deputy President Ramaphosa. The possibility of violence cannot be ruled out. We must ask whether a state of emergency could be used to retain power", says Myburgh.
A state of emergency could possibly give Zuma the power to detain his enemies, adds Myburgh.
An added effect, says Myburgh is that government would have the power to interfere with communications and silence critics.
"If this were to take place the effect on the economy would be devastating. Confidence would evaporate. Industries like tourism would be hard hit. That would lead to greater unemployment and social unrest", concludes Myburgh.
- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE