For more than 21 months, South Africa has been under a National State of Disaster. Now President Cyril Ramaphosa is being urged to end it by various quarters of society.
Section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 allows the government, when in a state of disaster, to make regulations and issue directives to members of the public.
These directives or regulations must be introduced to achieve one of the following goals.
(a) assisting and protecting the public
(b) providing relief to the public
(c) protecting property
(d) preventing or combatting disruption
(e) dealing with the destructive and other effects of the disaster
Fareed Abdullah, an Infectious Diseases Clinician at Steve Biko Academic Hospital says the management of the pandemic has to change.
This as members of the public have in some form gained immunity from either being infected with Covid-19 or have been vaccinated against the virus.
He does however believe that the government made the correct choice by not introducing a higher lockdown level when a fourth wave of infection began in South Africa. In previous waves, higher lockdown levels often meant that businesses had to shut down or operate in a limited capacity.
Abdullah does acknowledge that some of the regulations have to be in place for other aspects of the pandemic. This includes the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant.
Section 27(2)b of the Disaster Management Act makes provision for providing relief to the public. He says that the Department of Social Development needs to make provisions for this and mechanisms need to be put into place so that the grant remains available to members of the public.
“From a medical point of view it seems that it will make more sense if the future kind of regulations to manage this pandemic arise out of the National Health Act and are managed by the National Department of Health” declared Abdullah.