Legal action to end South Africa’s state of disaster

Following the extension of the national state of disaster to 15 February 2022, the Solidarity Movement plans to launch a court case to have it scrapped.

The Solidarity Movement, which includes Solidarity and AfriForum, declared their stance in a statement on Tuesday, saying that there is no reason for the current state of disaster to remain in effect.

AfriForum campaign manager Jacques Broodryk said the organisation will file its court documents soon.

“AfriForum has already taken on several of the government’s outrageous measures, including the curfew regulations, state quarantine camps and the ban on religious gatherings,” Broodryk said.

“The time has come for the state of disaster to be lifted in its entirety.”

According to Solidarity Movement chair Flip Buys, there is evidence of increased group immunity against Covid-19 in South Africa, resulting in less severe illness and fewer deaths.

This, combined with the fact that the Covid-19 has become endemic, means that a state of disaster is no longer necessary.

“The fact that the virus is now endemic means the virus won’t disappear, but we will have to learn to live with the virus,” Buys said.

Jacques Broodryk, AfriForum’s campaign manager

“It also means that exceptional measures by the state, such as those that can be instituted under a state of disaster, are no longer necessary in an effort to control the virus.”

AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel said that the state of disaster poses a threat to the freedom of South Africans by allowing the government to restrict civil liberties drastically.

“The fact that the state of disaster can be prolonged repeatedly without parliamentary approval is a serious violation of sound democratic principles,” Kriel said.

DA leader John Steenhuisen has stated that the regulations are no longer necessary to manage the virus, saying that they restrict South Africa’s social, economic and democratic recovery.

“South Africa needs certainty. Investors need it, tourists need it, teachers need it, schoolchildren need it. Schoolchildren need to go to school full time. Not a couple of days a week,” Steenhuisen said.

“People need to know they can invest in businesses large or small without the rules of the game suddenly changing. Without investment, there will be no job creation and no sustainable poverty alleviation.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa explained that the state of disaster could not be terminated at short notice as government needs to incorporate epidemic public health measures into standard regulations.

In his address to the nation on Sunday, 28 November 2021, Ramaphosa said that amendments to the country’s health regulations had begun.

Dr Joe Phaahla, Minister of Health

To address the situation, health minister Joe Phaahla must make regulations under the National Health Act to regulate aspects including mask-wearing, social distancing, gatherings, and vaccinations.

“We know that [vaccines] prevent severe disease and hospitalisation. We also know that the coronavirus will be with us for the long term,” Ramaphosa stated.

Such regulations must be Gazetted a minimum of three months before their implementation.

According to Solidarity CEO Dr Dirk Hermann, declarations that the state of disaster could not be terminated at short notice conveniently forget about the regulations that had been introduced and enforced “with immediate effect” under the state of disaster.

On Friday, 14 January 2022, South Africa’s Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, extended the state of disaster for another month.

South Africa has been in a state of disaster for 674 days — since 15 March 2020.

Now read: Deaths of 280,000 people may have bought South Africa freedom from Covid-19

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Legal action to end South Africa’s state of disaster