Yesterday, the ANC and EFF voted against the Private Member’s Bill submitted by the leader of the FF Plus (Dr Pieter Groenewald), which was aimed at restricting the powers of the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to extend the pandemic state of disaster indefinitely.
These two parties indicated that in their view, the Private Member’s Bill is not "advisable". Thus, the Minister has been given free rein to decide unilaterally when the state of disaster will come to an end.
With the Private Member’s Bill, the FF Plus aimed to restrict the Minister's powers and to make her more accountable to Parliament's National Assembly (NA).
In terms of the Private Member’s Bill, the Minister would have to get approval from the NA to extend the state of disaster beyond 21 days. The NA would also have had to discuss new regulations for the state of disaster before making a decision.
This procedure would have been in line with the prescripts for a state of emergency, where the Constitution compels the President to, within 21 days, obtain approval from the NA before extending a state of emergency.
The ANC and EFF missed a golden opportunity to restrict the Minister's powers and must know that voters will take note of it.
The FF Plus is on record expressing its view that the state of disaster should have been lifted long ago and that many of the related regulations were irrational.
The Private Member’s Bill would have ensured that the Minister does not have unrestricted power.
It is lamentable that politics plays a bigger role than the responsibility that members of the ANC and the EFF ought to have towards the country's voters.