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Comment Sought on Disaster Management Amendment Bill

February 19, 2021

Parliament

A Draft Disaster Management Amendment Bill has been drawn up.

The private member’s bill was drafted by Cilliers Brink, a Democratic Alliance member of parliament.

The draft bill seeks to “subject the wide-ranging powers of the Minister to declare and extend a national state of disaster, and to make subordinate legislation pursuant to such a declaration, subject to Parliamentary supervision”.

The proposed legislation also seeks to limit the initial period that a national state of disaster can be declared to the same 21-day limit that South African law currently places on a state of emergency.

The explanatory summary, published in Government Gazette 44166, declares that, unlike the State of Emergency Act, the Disaster Management Act does not allow parliament to review the extension of a national state of disaster or to disapprove of the subordinate legislation (regulations and directions) that flow from it.

The act also does not provide for any formal procedural constraints on how the cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister’s powers are to be exercised.

The draft bill will seek to end this “anomaly” by establishing similar parliamentary supervision over national states of disaster and act as a bulwark against executive encroachment on the legislative authority of parliament.

Comment on the proposed content of the draft bill is invited within 30 days of the date of publication.