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Court battle looms over dismay at state’s new Covid-19 rules

The SA Local Government Association has laid out its concerns about the new rules to manage Covid-19.

The SA Local Government Association has laid out its concerns about the new rules to manage Covid-19.

Published Jul 1, 2022

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Johannesburg - The SA Local Government Association (Salga) has expressed its concerns about the proposed National Health Act regulations announced by the government to fight Covid-19.

Salga’s concerns come after President Cyril Ramaphosa ended the national state of disaster two weeks ago.

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Ramaphosa said going forward, the pandemic would be managed in terms of the National Health Act, which have been published for public comment until today.

He announced that certain elements of the regulations may remain in place for a limited period for post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation.

”Accordingly, certain transitional provisions will remain in place for a period of 30 days after the termination of the national state of disaster to ensure essential public health precautions and other necessary services are not interrupted while the new regulations in terms of the act come into effect,” Ramaphosa explained.

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However, Salga has complained that the regulations assign municipal powers and functions to traditional leaders who do not have the technical expertise to carry them out.

”These regulations undermine the powers, functions, and legislated responsibilities of municipalities.

“In addition, when the regulations assign responsibilities of municipalities to traditional authorities, they do not consider that traditional authorities do not have the technical expertise that should inform the decisions being assigned to them,” the association said in response to the draft regulations.

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Salga also demanded that the draft regulations must be amended to rectify this by assigning responsibilities to municipalities where such responsibilities are within the powers, functions and legislated responsibilities of municipalities.

According to the association, the regulations assign responsibilities that are municipal functions to traditional leaders and in some cases they refer to unspecified authorities on matters that are within the powers, functions and legislated delegations of municipalities.

ActionSA this week threatened to challenge the regulations in court and announced that it has instructed its legal team to prepare for an urgent high court review should they be made final in their present form.

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”The draft regulations relating to the surveillance and the control of notifiable medical conditions were published on 15 March 2022 and have been widely condemned.

“ActionSA views the contents of the regulations to involve (Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs) Minister (Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma) acting outside of her legal authority and in a manner that is patently unconstitutional,” the party said.

Former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba’s party said the regulations were unconstitutional and involve Dlamini Zuma and her health counterpart, Dr Joe Phaahla, granting themselves powers that were never intended in South African law or the Constitution.

ActionSA has told the government that if the regulations were made final after the deadline for public comment, it would proceed to court on an urgent basis.

”Our legal team is readying the application in anticipation of having to approach the courts,” the organisation said.

Phaahla has announced that the deadline for public comment on the regulations has been extended to April 23 but insisted that they were not a plan to control South Africans’ lives.

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