The Helen Suzman Foundation has approached the Constitutional Court in an attempt to force parliament and the executive to take back their power.
“Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has been allowed to enact legislation on her own or with the National Council for two months as part of the government’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic,” said Francis Antonie, director of the foundation, on.
“They [the parliament and cabinet] seem to be comfortable with their powers being taken over by others, apparently for as long as COVID-19 poses a threat.”
The Disaster Management Act gives Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, diverse powers during an event such as a pandemic. According to Antony, this legislative and executive power rests with parliament and the executive in terms of the Constitution.
“Although centralization of power in the minister could be justified by the sudden threat presented by Covid-19, this basic departure from the separation of powers can only last for a short time, namely until parliament and the executive legislate and executive can perform functions related to Covid-19. “
The foundation argues in their court documents that Parliament has a duty to pass legislation that regulates the state’s response regarding the threat posed by Covid-19 and the damage it causes. “The executive has a duty to prepare and initiate this legislation for consideration, debate and ultimately parliamentary approval.
“The executive is then obliged to apply the legislation. Only by carrying out these duties will the current collapse of the separation of powers be remedied and South Africa’s democracy restored to constitutional normality. In this way, under the Constitution, Parliament and the executive both have a central role to play in the state’s response to Covid-19. “
The foundation argues that parliament and the executive should have taken active steps following the announcement of a disaster to take back their constitutional duties. “They failed in that.”
According to Antonie, the foundation was therefore forced to approach the Constitutional Court for an order to compel them to withdraw their power.
“The foundation wants a restoration of the power of parliament and the executive so that they can function as required by the Constitution. This irreplaceable voice of the people has been silent for two months now, amid the national and global crisis. The time has come for it to speak again. “