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On Wednesday afternoon, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma released a statement to say that she was extending South Africa’s state of disaster by another month.

“I, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, as designated under section 3 of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002) (“the Act”), in terms of section 27(5)c) of the Act, hereby further extend the national state of disaster that I extended to 15 October 2020 by Government Notice 995, published in Government Gazette 43713, to 15 November 2020, taking into account the need to continue augmenting the existing legislation and contingency arrangements undertaken by organs of state to address the impact of the disaster.”

“End state of disaster NOW”

On Monday this week, the DA called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to end the state of disaster and the prolonged lockdown in the country.

“South Africa’s prolonged lockdown must end immediately and completely. Indeed, both should have ended five months ago. SA’ epidemiological models massively exaggerated the size of the covid risk,” said John Steenhuisen, Leader of the Democratic Alliance, in a statement.

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“The state of disaster undermines democracy, oversight, and policy certainty. Extending it will be no more than a continuation of the government’s attempt to use bad science to promote a climate of fear that gives false legitimacy to the ANC’s growing authoritarianism,” said Steenhuisen. “It has massively enabled the theft of state resources, which is why the ANC government has been so reluctant to end it.”

Concerns also raised about amendments to the Health Act

According to a statement released by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Health, Siviwe Gwarube, the amendments introduced late on Tuesday night by Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize, introduce regulations “akin to the Disaster Management Act to normalise snap government interventions.”

“They give the Minister of Health or more broadly, the Executive, unlimited powers to impose restrictions that will impede civil liberties,” warned Gwarube.

The most concerning amendments state the following:

  • The Minister of Health may “impose necessary restrictions, relating to such notifiable medical condition” by the mere publication of a Government Gazette;
  • Restrictions may include:
    • Complete or partial closing of any public place including a place used for public receptions, tourist activities or events or public recreation, amusement or entertainment activities or events;
    • Prohibition of movements between districts and provinces of people;
    • Prohibitions of the use of ports of entry;
    • Imposing curfews for people to remain indoors; and
    • Closing of educational institutions.

“We cannot allow this state of affairs to be normalized as though we do not live in a Constitutional democracy,” said Gwarube.

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