Letter: Little surprise state of disaster was extended - Businesslive

18 March 2022 - Your editorial opinion refers ("Time to end the state of disaster”, March 18). It ought to have come as little surprise that government extended the state of disaster to April 15 despite promises to the contrary. That government is now trying to force various irrational aspects of its lockdown regulations into health legislation was always expected.

Your editorial opinion refers ("Time to end the state of disaster”, March 18). It ought to have come as little surprise that government extended the state of disaster to April 15 despite promises to the contrary. That government is now trying to force various irrational aspects of its lockdown regulations into health legislation was always expected.

The proposed regulations currently available for public comment — within an unjustifiably short time period — aim to concentrate more power in the area of health, and more wide-ranging discretion in the hands of the given health minister.

The regulations and their content serve as yet another example of the governing party’s adherence to a command-control outlook on the relationship between state and society.

In the meantime, the National Coronavirus Command Council continues to exist and operate, absent parliamentary oversight. Given the continued state of disaster the president can in theory at any point confine people to their homes again, declare gatherings suspended, decree that the council has granted ministers the scope to ban certain products, and so on.

Civil liberties — in the SA context especially hard fought for, and for which so much was sacrificed — should not exist in such a state of perpetual limbo.

Your editorial rightly points out that the “rules brought into effect in terms of the Disaster Act have not been subject to public consultation or parliamentary oversight.”

Many in the governing party view parliamentary oversight as a mere irritation; if “the party is the state” there is little reason for it to worry about things such as accountability and transparency.

You describe it as “astonishing” that “in seeking to end its reliance on the state of disaster for managing the pandemic, the government has shoehorned its outdated lockdown framework into health legislation.”

But there is nothing astonishing about an authoritarian ideology manifesting, in small and larger ways, as was always intended.

“‘Emergencies’ have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.” — Friedrich von Hayek

Chris Hattingh
Institute of Race Relations

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/letters/2022-03-18-letter-little-surprise-state-of-disaster-was-extended/

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