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DA Files Constitutional Court Papers Challenging Disaster Management Act

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has filed Constitutional Court papers challenging the Disaster Management Act.

The party wants effective parliamentary oversight mechanisms to watch the state’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

The DA argues the current setup does not effectively involve Parliament in government’s decision-making around the pandemic.

DA parliamentary leader John Steenhuisen said that the Disaster Management Act gave the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister “exceedingly broad” powers over almost every aspect of the business sector and the lives of South Africans.

Steenhuisen said that they’d approached the Constitutional Court to have sections of the Act declared unconstitutional.

“In that, it doesn’t provide for oversight and accountability by Parliament. The Section 55 and 42 of the Constitution is very clear that all organs of state must be accountable to Parliament and the National Command Council that’s been established has not been accounting to Parliament.”

He said that this would allow Parliament to scrutinise and oversee executive decision making.

“You can’t have a situation in the country where the executive accounts to itself and we believe this is an error in the Disaster Management Act, it is unconstitutional and we are going to ask the Constitutional Court to read something in to make sure that the Act is constitutional.”

National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise, NCOP chairperson Amos Masondo, and President Cyril Ramaphosa are the other respondents in the court application.