Home South African AfriForum heads to court over extension of state of disaster

AfriForum heads to court over extension of state of disaster

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Civil rights organisation, AfriForum is waiting for a court date amid launching numerous legal battles against the government’s decision to extend the national state of disaster.

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster on March 15, 2020, due to the rapid spread of Covid-19. A national lockdown was announced on March 23, commencing on March 27, 2020. File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

CIVIL rights organisation, AfriForum is waiting for a court date amid launching numerous legal battles against the government’s decision to extend the national state of disaster.

This week, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma announced that the government would stretch the national state of disaster to April 15.

AfriForum condemned this, stating that it would continue its fight to end the state of disaster in court.

The organisation began its legal action in February to have the state of disaster nullified.

“This again proves AfriForum’s point, that the government has no plans of ever giving up the powers they have grabbed – under the guise of an emergency – over the last two years.

There is no reason to continue the state of disaster unless you’re a power-hungry politician, or the countless corrupt individuals, who are profiting from emergency procurement irregularities,” said Jacques Broodryk, AfriForum’s campaign manager.

In its arguments, AfriForum states that there is currently no disaster, and no need for a state of disaster.

The government has indicated it will oppose AfriForum’s actions.

Meanwhile, the EFF said it won’t be heading to court over the matter.

“South Africans have long disregarded this government’s nonsensical lockdown regulations. They are just setting laws because it makes them feel powerful. All they must be condemned for is their refusal to reopen stadiums and rescue the livelihoods of the poor, who depend on the sector,” said EFF national spokesperson Sinawo Thambo.

Like the EFF, the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) also said it would not be pursuing legal action.

“We will not go to court over the extension of the national state of disaster because it will end in April, and an application will take longer. AfriForum is in a process which they started earlier,” said FF+ leader Dr Pieter Groenewald.

While Cope also has no plans to go the legal route, for now, spokesperson Dennis Bloem said: “We can not rule out that we will not do so in the future. We are very disappointed with how President Ramaphosa is treating us as opposition parties, he no longer consults us on this deadly virus. Our view was always that we can only defeat this enemy – Covid-19 – as a united force, the government can’t do it alone.”

DA spokesperson on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Cilliers Brink said that in 2020 the DA filed an application challenging the constitutionality of Section 27 of the Disaster Management Act.

“This matter is currently before the Supreme Court of Appeal. This law is the lynchpin of the government’s lockdown powers, and it’s the focus of our legal strategy. We want the same checks that apply to government power, under a state of emergency, to apply under a national state of disaster,” said Brink.

He added that means that Parliament will have to approve any extension of a national state of disaster, with special majorities required for this purpose.

“We also want Parliament to have the power to amend disaster regulations. This will bring the Disaster Management Act in line with the Constitution. This being our focus, we will consider all legal options in the meantime,” Brink said.

ActionSA spokesperson Lerato Ngobeni said they do not intend to go the legal route, but the party is exploring its options

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