Following the recent Pretoria High Court judgment, which declared the regulations of the current lockdown in terms of the National Disaster Management Act unconstitutional and invalid; and government’s appetite to appeal the ruling, the IFP believes that this is an opportune moment to strengthen the regulations and to implement the relevant checks and balances, which are required for greater inclusivity and democracy post-lockdown.
As much as the ruling is unfortunate, it is understandable that for the very first time the National Disaster Act has been enacted, tested and now tried during this global pandemic.
Any piece of legislation requires this type of rigorous monitoring and evaluation process to provide South Africans with the best possible outcome and sound legislation.
The lesson is now to tighten the regulations through amendments and to close any loopholes which may exist or impede on the constitutional rights of South Africans, during or post-lockdown.
The IFP will therefore consider a Private Members Bill to amend the Disaster Management Act, or ensure that this matter is raised within the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Portfolio Committee, to table a Committee Bill, which will include amendments to build in the necessary checks and balances to strengthen representation and accountability.
We firmly believe that Parliament as the representative body of all South Africans should enjoy greater authority in determining regulations when in disaster. This responsibility cannot be left alone to a few Ministers in Cabinet or the formation of a Council, which is not democratically elected.
The past judgment has not identified specifically which regulations are unconstitutional however, while government intends to rectify this and challenge the ruling in another court, we believe that democracy must prevail and that no person, council or any other body should be allowed to make decisions on behalf of South Africans if they are not democratically elected nor mandated to do so.
Therefore, this is a lesson for the Executive branch of government to limit its control and reach and for Parliament’s bite to match its bark.
Mkhuleko Hlengwa MP
IFP National Spokesperson
071 111 0539