Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has extended the national state of disaster by one month.
The state of disaster was first declared on 15 March 2020 to address the COVID-19 outbreak which has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It was set to lapse on 15 June, but the Disaster Management Act allows the Cogta minister to extend a national state of disaster by one month at a time before it lapses.
This is exactly what has happened since June, with one-month extensions being announced every time before it was set to lapse.
Bowmans partner Daniel Pretorius previously explained that the national state of disaster must remain active for the lockdown regulations to remain in force.
“The regulations will only remain in force for as long as there is a state of disaster. If the state of disaster is not extended, the regulations will lapse,” said Pretorius.
Pretorius said there is no restriction on the number of times the Minister may extend the state of disaster.
This means Dlamini-Zuma can extend the state of disaster, one month at a time, for as long as she deems it necessary to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
State of disaster extended, but another lockdown unlikely
While the national state of disaster was extended, Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka said it is unlikely to result in another strict lockdown.
She said the government will continue to extend the state of disaster because it gives ministers powers that they did not have before.
“The state of disaster gives the ministers tools to play with should they wish to,” said Wierzycka.
There is, however, a realisation that lockdown is not the right strategy for a developing country like South Africa.
“We are heading for a GDP contraction of over 8% this year, we are looking at 3 million jobs lost, and we have already seen social unrest,” she said.
With many sectors of society, including the unions, turning against the lockdown, Wierzycka said the government does not have the appetite for any more lockdowns.
She added that the remaining lockdown restrictions should be lifted to allow the economy to function normally.