Premier Winde condemns the extension of the National State of Disaster
Media release: Premier Winde condemns the extension of the National State of Disaster; President Ramaphosa owes South Africa an explanation
I condemn the extension of the National State of Disaster by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, which was set to expire today.
Despite having months to prepare alternative public health measures that would normalize our response while enabling us to focus on creating jobs, it seems that the National Government has not yet finished the job. This is unacceptable, and President Cyril Ramaphosa owes South Africa an explanation.
It is also concerning that the extension took place without a President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) meeting, which meant that provinces were unable to engage with the National Government on this matter.
This is also despite Minister Dlamini-Zuma herself indicating that the PCC would be the appropriate platform for engagement on this issue, after my correspondence to President Ramaphosa in February, following his State of the Nation Address commitment to end the declaration.
Then on 11 March, my office received a further letter from Minister Dlamini-Zuma effectively sayin the disaster will end once "adequate measures are introduced". No details were provided.
What is equally concerning is that a PCC was, in fact, scheduled for this past weekend but then suddenly cancelled. Why did this meeting not happen? There are many unanswered questions which now need a response.
The bottom line is that we cannot be in a state of disaster indefinitely. The provincial budget, which we tabled yesterday, makes clear that we remain fully prepared to respond to further COVID-19 waves, and that we will continue to invest in our vaccination programme to save lives. But the scientific evidence is clear: we no longer need a disaster act declaration to manage the pandemic, and we instead need to normalize our response through existing health legislation.
We cannot keep on kicking this important issue down the line, month after month. We need an answer now.