News The African Way

South Africa: National State of Disaster to End Soon

By Sunday Elijah

South African Cabinet has concluded plans to gradually end the National State of Disaster, starting next week – other sections of the National Disaster Act would remain in place for no less than 30 days.

South Africa has been in a National State of Disaster since March 2020 when the country recorded its first case of COVID-19.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who announced this while interacting with journalists on Tuesday, announced the gazetting the publishing of some regulations that should remain, in accordance with Section 27 of the Disaster Management Act, which provides for the management of the post disaster management and rehabilitation.

The gazette proposes that when the National State of Disaster ends, some regulations should remain for not more than 30 days after that.

“So we publish these regulations for comments for 48 hours starting today and then we’ll analyse what they say. Then the President will announce the end of the National State of Disaster, which will be before the 15th, depending on the comments.

“It might be around the fifth of April. This was also informed by the Disaster Management Centre, which has also done its own work and they’ve advised that the classification of pandemic at this point is no longer advisable,” said the Minister.

The comments, she said, would then be analysed before the final decision was taken to end the National State of Disaster.

At that point, she said President Cyril Ramaphosa would then make an announcement on the next course of action, possibly next week.

These recommendations will consider issues such as the R350 Social Relief of Distress, the wearing of masks indoors. Currently, the wearing of the facemask is mandatory for every person in indoor public spaces, excluding children under the age of six.

“All gatherings including faith-based religious political, cultural, restaurants, you name it, in those gatherings a thousand people indoors will be allowed and 2 000 outdoors. However, if you want to go beyond the 1000, then you can go up to 50% of the venue.

“But that one has a condition that you must show that you have been vaccinated or show a certificate of a PCR test that is not older than 72 hours. But if it’s a thousand, then those conditions do not apply,” she said.

Indoor gatherings in the workplace are governed by this condition.

On regulation 75, land borders would now be fully operational.

However, the 32 borders would remain closed, “because they were not necessarily economic”.

“But the ones that are open – 21 of them – are fully operational. When you from outside (the country), you must show either a PCR test that  is not older than 72 hours or a vaccine certificate. If you have a vaccination certificate, you don’t need the PCR test,” she said.

The Minister said this would also be the requirement at the country’s international airports and the Kruger National Park.

Issues such as the payment of the R350 SRD grant would continue but would be removed from the National Disaster regulations after 30 days.

She said the same would happen with the backlog of driver’s license.

“That will continue to be addressed for that short period through the National Disaster Act, even when the National State of Disaster would have ended.

Dlamini Zuma said the No Fault Compensation Scheme would also continue when the regulations are repealed after 30 days, saying it was a post-disaster issue that needed to be addressed.

On this account, she said Cabinet on Monday and took a decision that government should move towards ending the National State of Disaster regulations but put in place those that will be in place for not more than 30 days as post-disaster rehabilitation, in compliance with the law and not stop “abruptly”.

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