Western Cape condemns extended state of disaster

Despite having months to prepare alternative public health measures that would normalise the country’s response to the pandemic, it’s evidently clear that the national government couldn’t decide on how to move forward.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has been calling to end the state of disaster since last year so that the province could focus on job creation.

“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 on Tuesday,” said Winde in a statement. 

“This is unacceptable, and President Cyril Ramaphosa owes South Africa an explanation,” Winde said. 

Winde said of greater concern is that the extension took place, allegedly without a President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) meeting.

“This means that provinces were unable to engage with the National Government on this matter,” said Winde. 

Winde said that Dlamini-Zuma herself indicated that the PCC would be the appropriate platform to discuss how to proceed with the pandemic.

The Western Cape government wrote 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 saying the disaster will end once “adequate measures are introduced,” said Winde. 

The province said Dlamini-Zuma failed to provide any other information on the matter. 

“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 that now need a response. 

The bottom line is that we cannot be in a state of disaster indefinitely,” stressed Winde.

The provincial budget, which was tabled yesterday, makes clear that Western Cape remains fully prepared to respond to further Covid-19 waves, and that it will continue to invest in the 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,” said Winde.

“We cannot keep on kicking this important issue down the line, month after month. We need an answer now.”
NOW READ: National State of Disaster extended by another month

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