COGTA Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has officially gazetted an extension of the State of Disaster laws, which are currently governing South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the announcement was a mere formality, lockdown-skeptics and members of the DA will be disappointed there was no debate about this move in Parliament.
How long will the State of Disaster be extended for?
The ANC has been criticised for essentially ‘ruling by decree’. Each extension of the State of Disaster – since its first implementation one year ago – has faced no scrutiny in the National Assembly. This, along with the fact Dlamini-Zuma is announcing the changes rather than President Cyril Ramaphosa, has caused some friction amongst political opponents.
Nonetheless, South Africa will remain under its ‘lockdown laws’ for at least another 35 days. The previous State of Disaster extension was due to expire on Monday 15 March. But, thanks to NDZ’s intervention, the legislation will officially stay in place until Thursday 15 April. But don’t make any plans to throw your masks away just yet…
Lockdown ‘unlikely to end’ anytime soon
The State of Disaster will almost certainly be extended again next month. And again after that. And so on: With the threat of a third wave looming large over the nation, no precautions can can be written off at this point. COVID-19 remains ‘in circulation’, albeit at lower levels, and a stalled vaccine rollout means there will be no swift route out of lockdown for us.
“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 extends the national state of disaster that I extended to 15 March 2021 published in Government Gazette 44150, to 15 April 2021.”
“This is 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.”