600 days of lockdown: IRR asks Ramaphosa for answers on state of disaster extension
As SA hit day 600 of lockdown on Thursday, the Institute of Race Relations has challenged President Cyril Ramaphosa to provide answers on the continuous extension of the state of disaster, particularly amid record lows in Covid-19 deaths.
According to Gabriel Crouse, IRR’s head of campaigns, the extension of the state of disaster is “unconstitutional and arguably deceitfully framed”.
“As the IRR observed in a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, what is being called a 'state of disaster' is in actual terms a state of emergency. Calling it a different name allows the national coronavirus command council to ignore section 37 of the constitution.
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“According to this section 'a state of emergency may be declared only in terms of an act of parliament'. No parliamentary approval has been given for the latest extension,” Crouse said.
He said the IRR, through its attorneys, sent Ramaphosa a letter last week with a demand to know on what basis the state of disaster had been extended.
This demand has also been addressed to Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
IRR demanded answers to the following questions by no later than November 30:
- Based on what advice, reports, evidence or considerations was the national state of disaster extended on November 15 2021?
- What reasons underlie the decision to extend the national state of disaster?
- Were any alternative measures to combat the spread of Covid-19 considered before the decision was taken to extend the national state of disaster?
- Moreover, were any less-restrictive means to combat Covid-19 considered?
- Were the continued adverse economic consequences that accompany the national state of disaster considered when declaring the latest extension, and previous extensions, of the state of disaster?
- Was it considered that, though there was widespread electioneering across the country during the local government elections; no spike in Covid-19 cases is now being experienced?
- Were any international examples consulted and followed in the decision to extend the national state of disaster?
Acting presidency spokesperson Tyrone Seale confirmed on Friday that the presidency had received correspondence from the IRR, and said it would respond via the appropriate channels.
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