The Democratic Alliance has announced an urgent court challenge after the government extended the country’s national state of disaster by a further month.
In a media briefing on Thursday (17 March), DA leader John Steenhuisen said his party also plans to mount a legal challenge against the regulations government plans to introduce to permanently replace the state of disaster.
This is in a bid to end the lockdown and Covid restrictions in the country, permanently, he said.
The lockdown is not in South Africa’s best interest but is instead pushing more people into joblessness and deeper into poverty, Steenhuisen said.
“Next Wednesday will mark two years since South Africa entered a three-week lockdown to prepare for the Covid-19 epidemic. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs, thousands of livelihoods have been destroyed, millions of school and university days have been missed, and billions of rands have been lost to tax revenue, which could have gone to poverty relief.
“The only state of disaster that the country is in, is the self-imposed one caused by ongoing restrictions which do more harm than good.”
Steenhuisen added that there is no need to maintain the state of disaster and the lockdown and that both can always be reinstated at a later date if the situation genuinely demands it.
The government’s ability to quickly reinstate a state of disaster means there is also no need to move lockdown restrictions into permanent legislation, he said.
“The only permanent Covid-related regulations that need to be in place are those enabling the Social Relief of Distress grant to continue to be paid.”
He further cautioned that maintaining some lockdown restrictions – including limitations on gatherings, travel requirements and vaccinations – will further stunt the economy at a time when other countries are lifting all of their restrictions.
“The ANC government is no longer fighting the spread of Covid. It is fighting to hold on to the powers it has become accustomed to these past two years. Powers that allow it to evade all accountability and oversight.
“Such an unconstitutional power grab cannot be tolerated in an open, democratic society like ours. The Democratic Alliance is going to fight the State of Disaster and the lockdown until we end them both. If president Ramaphosa does not instruct (his cabinet) to end both, we will see him in court.”