The government’s decision on Tuesday to extend the national state of disaster for another month — despite President Cyril Ramaphosa’s assurance that last month’s extension was the last — has sparked resistance from opposition parties, health experts, businesses, and civil society groups – and faces legal challenges.
Here are some responses from Christian leaders to the continuing state of disaster which will be 2-years old at the end of the month:
Bishop Marothi Mashishini, president of South African Christian Forum, responding to a question from Gateway News on Tuesday — “The decision by the government to extend the National State of Disaster for yet another month it’s an indication that the current government lacks the best interest for and respect for the people. We have been calling for the end of this lockdown since long back, and they have been defending their irrationality by so-called scientific evidence, but now that they are acting contrary to the scientific evidence. What would be their grounds, then?
“It is now two years that we have been with the pandemic and we have demonstrated the ability to contain the virus. We just need to accept that it going be with us for some time, and all these existing regulations make no difference to the pandemic.
“It is unlikely that the government will achieve the targeted percentage of the vaccinated population to end the lockdown.”
Michael Swain, executive director Freedom of Religion South Africa, responding to a question from Gateway News on Tuesday — “There really can be no logical reason for the extension of the national state of disaster. The death rate as of today is zero, yesterday it was 14, and the average is 17 — that is national. It is evident that the pandemic has passed. Every other country in the world, just about is returning to whatever the new normal is — that definitely involves getting back to life as we roughly knew it.
“Namibia has removed mask mandates, Botswana is also doing the same thing. The US and many countries in Europe have done that. What is the justification for the national state of disaster — in other words the suspension of parliamentary intervention or oversight? There really is no justification whatsoever.”
ACDP MP Steve Swart, speaking in Parliament on Tuesday — It is also crucial, and it would be remiss not to mention — I hesitate to say the limited, the lack of any oversight this parliament has over, firstly the promulgation of the state of disaster, and secondly the extension of the state of disaster which was extended today. We have no say over that, whatsoever and it cannot be so. It cannot be so that after almost two years — two years — and it was to two years today that I had Covid-19 — that we are still sitting with an extension. And that notwithstanding what President Ramaphosa said in the State of the Nation Address, that that previous one would be the last extension.
“So we have no say over the promulgation, no say over the regulations at all, and despite private members bills from both the DA and the Freedom Front Plus. The one bill was rejected today, which was an attempt to improve parliament’s oversight over those two issues.”
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