Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has extended the national state of disaster for another month.
Dlamini-Zuma signed a gazette on Wednesday confirming the extension of the Covid-19-enforced state of disaster, which was due to expire on Thursday.
She said government made the move after “taking into account the need to continue augmenting the existing legislation and contingency arrangements undertaken by organs of state to address the impact of the [Covid-19] disaster”.
The state of disaster will now be in place until November 15.
While the state of disaster was originally set to lapse on June 15, the Disaster Management Act provides that it can be extended by the cooperative governance minister by notice in the Government Gazette for one month at a time before it lapses.
Cabinet declared a state of disaster on March 15 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize warned that if citizens became complacent and forget about masks and social distancing, the country could suffer a second wave of the virus.
Mkhize said there had been an increase in cases over the past two weeks.
“We have to be very realistic here and not deal with it emotionally or try to create a controversy about it,” Mkhize said.
While government has been criticised for not lifting the state of disaster, it said that the measure was necessary to stave off a worst-case scenario in the fight against the virus.
Dlamini-Zuma said that the extension took into account the need to continue augmenting the existing legislation and contingency arrangements undertaken by organs of state to address the impact of the health crisis.
Earlier this week, the DA said that the state of disaster undermined democracy, oversight and policy certainty, and entrenched what it called “bad science”, promoting a climate of fear in the country.
“Extending [the state of disaster] will be no more than a continuation of government’s attempt to use bad science to promote a climate of fear that gives false legitimacy to the ANC’s growing authoritarianism,” it said.
The party said that, under South Africa’s level 1 lockdown rules, certain sectors of the economy were still struggling to get going. Lockdown also continues to interrupt education, with no benefits to society, it said.
“During the past seven months, we have seen the South African government tighten its grip on citizens more with some irrational and unnecessary limitations of their rights. This was done arbitrarily through a Covid command council that was accountable to no one else besides the executive,” said the DA.
“We have seen Parliament sidelined and relegated to a mere spectator, all while massive decisions pertaining to the rights of citizens were made. This was done in aid of our fight against Covid-19 – a legitimate global health disaster.”
The state of disaster is what gives power and effect to all current lockdown regulations, which are all being directed under the Disaster Management Act.
By terminating the state of disaster, all current regulations – such as the curfew and restrictions on gatherings and movement – would no longer apply.
So far, South Africa has recorded more than 694 000 cases of Covid-19, and more than 18 000 people have succumbed to the virus.