Government extends South Africa’s state of disaster as it passes the two-year mark

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has extended South Africa’s national state of disaster by a further month.

The state of disaster is now set to expire on 15 April 2022. This would make it 25 months the country has been under a state of disaster since it was first declared at the end of March 2020.

The extension takes 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, she said.

While the national state of disaster was initially set to lapse on 15 June 2020, the act provides that it can be extended by the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister by notice in the gazette for one month at a time before it lapses.

The government has relied on the regulations to introduce and give effect to lockdown restrictions, which it has used to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

President Cyril Ramaphosa had previously indicated that the February extension to March would be the last, but weekend reports indicated uncertainty in the government over how to manage Covid without it.

Sources involved in the process told the Sunday Times that there are disagreements over the amount of regulatory authority the health department would have once the pandemic is no longer subject to the National Disaster Management Act.

“There is disagreement over what needs to be done. There is a feeling that the current proposals leave too many powers in the hands of the minister of health,” said a source privy to discussions. Another insider said the NCCC would continue discussions on how to fully reopen the economy.

Addressing media on Saturday evening, Ramaphosa said the government was still considering whether to extend the state of disaster this week and what regulations it will introduce to replace it.

“It will not be heavy-duty, it will be light duty so that we are able to manage this pandemic going forward.

“People should not stress too much about this, we are finding the best way possible of bringing a logical conclusion to the (end) of the state of disaster,” he said.

Read: Insurers are prepping for a fifth Covid wave in South Africa

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