IRR calls for public pressure to disband National Coronavirus Command Council
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The South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) hosted a media briefing targeted at their call to disband the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and end the national state of disaster.
The briefing, on Friday, put forward the arguments for disbanding the council, “in the interest of restoring the norms of South Africa’s constitutional democracy”.
Head of campaigns for the IRR Gabriel Crouse said they want the Disaster Management Act to be withdrawn, or the rules and criteria thereof to be reconsidered.
“We want to terminate the implementation of a national state of disaster. The NCCC is the sphere that makes recommendations and they are able to impose decisions on our lives.”
He added: “The Disaster Management Act is the handle that wheels that sphere.”
Crouse said the NCCC will lose its power once the national state of disaster ends.
“We have many disasters in South Africa. There is unemployment, public schooling and electricity provision,” he said.
“Covid-19 is not something that should put us in a state of disaster that should justify these extraordinary measures.”
The IRR launched a petition to disband the NCCC this past weekend, which they are encouraging South Africans to sign.
Crouse said public pressure and the public voice can cause change.
“There is no scientific evidence for them to continue with the national state of disaster. We are encouraging them to sign the petition.”
Crouse presented a graph with information supplied by the South African Medical Research Council, which showed that South Africa is on its way to a possible steady decrease in the number of deaths caused by Covid-19 compared to its total of active cases.
Crouse said the country could not wait for Covid-19 to become extinct to disband the NCCC and state of disaster.
“We will have signed the death warrant of South Africa’s constitutional democracy. The best evidence suggests that Covid-19 is becoming less deadly.”
Crouse said scrutiny needs to be applied to the Disaster Management Act.
IRR Head of Policy Research, Dr Anthea Jeffery, shared some of the Freedom Front Plus’ suggestions to amend the Disaster Management Bill before Parliament. Some of these suggestions include:
– A national state of disaster should only last 21 days unless the National Assembly resolves to extend it.
– The National Assembly (NA) can extend it for a maximum of three months at a time.
– The NA cannot vote on the extension without prior public debate.
– The minister must table any disaster regulations in the NA, which may be disapproved by a 51% majority vote.
Jeffery said Parliament could not delegate its lawmaking power to the NCCC.
“If it does so, this is an infringement of the normal separation of powers. Parliament’s law-making capacity is vital because it helps to promote openness and accountability,” she said.
“It’s what facilitates public participation in the legislative process.”
The NCCC could not be reached for comment.