I have today written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to request a consultation with provinces before any extension on the declaration of the national state of disaster is promulgated, as expected on 15 October 2021.
During this consultation, I have also asked for transparency on the National Government’s proposed roadmap out of the national state of disaster, which has not yet been made public or shared with provinces, despite the significant impact that the continued declaration has on the provincial economy and on our constitutional powers.
It is only fair on our residents, and especially our job-creating businesses, that this clarity is provided. We cannot be in a state of disaster forever, and we need to have a clear plan for its termination. This will provide much needed confidence to the economy, which remains under great pressure.
The Western Cape Government has a clear 5-point-plan on how we can get the balance right in saving lives and jobs.
- We must end the National State of Disaster to grow the economy and create jobs.
- We must enable Provincial and Local Government responses through an established traffic-light warning system, based on pre-determined measures of the health platform capacity. This will enable provincial, differentiated approaches in the future based on a provincial government’s capacity to respond to increased pressures.
- We must maintain healthcare capacity by increasing budget allocations to Provincial Governments. This will enable maintenance of standby field hospital capacity, healthcare worker capacity and oxygen capacity should it be required in the future.
- We must empower people by continuing with behaviour change campaigns that provide knowledge on non-pharmaceutical safety practices. Residents must be given the agency to protect themselves and others.
- We must increase vaccinations through more pop-up and satellite vaccination sites, which work better by improving convenience and access. This approach should be supported by the National Government.
Cooperative governance is an important principle of our constitutional dispensation and it is important that a decision to extend the disaster, which has such serious consequences for provinces and their economies, be preceded by a thorough application of minds, and detailed consideration of provincial plans and capacity to manage the pandemic going forward.
We trust that the President will treat this request as a genuine attempt to get the balance right in saving both lives and jobs in our country, and in line with the principles enshrined in the Constitution.