Time for the State of Disaster to serve South Africa and not the ANC.

Issued by Natasha Mazzone MP – Chief Whip of the Official Opposition
19 Apr 2022 in News

Please find an attached soundbite by Natasha Mazzone MP

With the re-introduction of the State of Disaster by the National Government, South Africans are justifiably concerned that funds earmarked for rebuilding flood devastated regions will be looted in a similar fashion to the Covid-19 relief funds.

I will therefore be tabling a draft resolution in the National Assembly to establish an ad hoc committee to oversee all aspects of the National State of Disaster to respond to floods in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Eastern Cape.

The DA notes the president’s request for a joint sitting of parliament to conduct oversight over the work required to provide relief and rebuild in the affected provinces. However, this once-off sitting is simply not enough. Over the last two years South Africans have received updates from the executive only when a Minister has chosen to arrange a press conference. There is an urgent need for consistent oversight to be conducted by Parliament over a declared state of disaster on behalf of the public.

The Disaster Management Act does not provide for parliamentary oversight, thereby allowing the executive to use the Act to bypass Parliament and govern through regulations. The government already abused this Act during the Covid 19 pandemic, when Parliament and its constitutionally mandated role of exercising oversight over the executive was all but forgotten.

The DA will not allow this situation to repeat itself. The proposed ad hoc committee must meet daily throughout the state of disaster given the urgency of this situation.

This committee will have extensive powers to exercise oversight over all activities related to the State of Disaster.  Some of these powers will include:

  • To summon any person before it to give evidence on oath or affirmation, or to produce documents;
  • To conduct public hearings; and
  • To receive petitions, representations, or submissions from interested persons or institutions.

While the ANC has previously rejected proposals to amend the Disaster Management Act, the party clearly plans to use the Disaster Management Act on an increasingly regular basis, with the potential to govern through the Act in perpetuity. As a result, there is a need to limit the government’s power to perpetually extend a state of disaster.

The DA will therefore be moving ahead with our PMB to amend Section 27 of the Disaster Management Act which will require express approval from Parliament for any extensions to a state of disaster beyond an initial 21-day period. We cannot allow the executive branch of government to continue extending a declared state of disaster into perpetuity without express approval from Parliament.

Parliament’s role of exercising oversight over the executive branch of government was sidelined throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. This status quo cannot be allowed to continue. The DA will be taking firm action to restore Parliament’s central oversight role within government.