Cabinet to discuss state of disaster

SABC News Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma - Cabinet to discuss state of disaster

The Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Department says Cabinet will discuss Minister Nkosazana-Dlamini Zuma’s proposal on the state of disaster on Saturday.

This as the one-month extension of the Declaration of a National State of Disaster comes to an end at midnight – almost five months after the coronavirus was declared a national disaster on March 15.

The first 90-day period expired on the 15th of June. It had to be extended on a month-to-month basis as provided for in the Act. In June, it was extended for another month which officially expired on the 15th July. The second one-month extension, which in July was granted until the end of today.

However, some opposition parties have mixed views over an extension.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) wants an end to the lockdown and for the state of disaster to be ended. DA Interim Leader John Steenhuisen says the recoveries are high and the infections have dropped significantly.

“There is a general agreement that a second wave is unlikely but not impossible. Either way, we cannot hide from the virus forever while our lives and our lively hood fall apart. We need to learn to live with it since its still to be with us for many months perhaps even years. While we must all continue to wear out masks and adhere to our safety protocols, we need to pick up the pieces and start to rebuild our shattered economy.”

The Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald says while he expects an extension of the declaration of national disaster, he remains concerned about the unending powers of the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs –  to extend the state of disaster indefinitely on a month-to-month basis without parliamentary oversight.

“It is an open-end clause and she can determine when to end it. We say that we have a problem with this specific clause in the  Act. because in terms of the constitution, in terms of the state of emergency, then she would have had to do to Parliament for approval for any further extension. Therefore we say that there should be an amendment to the Disaster Act where –  when we have such a long period of lockdown then she should get approval from Parliament.”

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) holds the same position as the DA,-  calling for an end to the extension of the state of disaster.

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe says: “The ACDP is obviously is not in support of any extension. The past month a lot of looting and corruption has been exposed. Personal Protective Equipment that should help the health workers, people have wither been stealing the money or the equipment for themselves. And obviously the looting has caused businesses that have been closed to also suffer. It is difficult to understand why we would extend the state of disaster because our economy is almost collapsing. So the ACDP says let people go back to work.”

However, Congress of the People (Cope) says its too soon to end the lockdown, and not extend the national state of disaster. Cope Spokesperson Dennis Bloem believes the worst of  COVID-19 is far from over.

“It will be a very serious mistake not to extend the state of disaster. But moving forward, we will call upon President Cyril Ramaphosa and the National (Coronavirus) Command Council, not to send out confusing messages. They must speak with one voice. The country is approaching a very serious face of COVID-19 and President Cyril Ramaphosa must show firm leadership in the fight against coronavirus. COPE will support the further extension of the state of disaster.”

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Spokesperson Delisiwe Ngwenya rejects any moves to further ease the lockdown.

“It is treasonous and murderers and the truth around COVID-19 in South Africa will reveal itself through mass deaths and once regulations are eased and alcohol and cigarettes are sold,- there is no scientific proof that South Africa is ready for an easing of lockdown regulations. And there never has been. The basis now will be manipulated data and once again government will backtrack on a decision that will overburden hospitals and lead to a loss of lives.”

CoGTA Spokesperson Lungi Mtshali says Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s proposal on the National State of Disaster will come before Cabinet on Saturday.

“The Minister has made a proposal and tabled it in front of the NCCC and that proposal will be discussed by cabinet and following the discussion by cabinet. I think the Minister in the Presidency will make an announcement and the proper gazetting processes will follow. The proposal  was based on our announcement on the 25th of April that we will look at the rate of  infection and the state of readiness of the health care system,- which means the availability of health care staff and  health care facility will inform  whether we’ll extend the national state of disaster and when and where we move to the various levels in terms of the risk-adjusted strategy.”

In the video below, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says no decision has been taken to move to lockdown level 2:

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