A bill that seeks to amend the Disaster Management Act has been referred to the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) for comment.
The Disaster Management Amendment Bill, a private member’s bill, was drawn up by Dr Pieter Groenewald, a Freedom Front Plus member of parliament and tabled in parliament last month.
Last week, the Joint Tagging Mechanism classified the bill as a Section 76 bill and as a bill falling within the ambit of section 18(1) of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act.
The bill was published for comment in Government Gazette 43834 in October 2020.
The bill aims to amend the Disaster Management Act, 2002, so as to:
• amend the duration of a state of disaster;
• provide that any action taken as a result of a declaration of a state of disaster is only effective prospectively;
• further provide that only the National Assembly, provincial legislature or council of a municipality may resolve to extend a national, provincial or local state of disaster respectively, and to provide for the duration of the extension;
• further provide for the requisite majorities required in the National Assembly, provincial legislature and council of a municipality in order to extend a national, provincial or local state of disaster respectively;
• provide that a resolution to extend a national, provincial or local state of disaster as the case may be, may only be adopted after a public debate in the respective legislatures;
• provide for oversight by the National Assembly and provincial legislature over a national or provincial state of disaster respectively;
• amend the provisions dealing with the lapsing of a national, provincial or local state of disaster and the termination of the regulations and by-laws made in terms of it as the case may be; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.
According to the bill’s memorandum, the “Disaster Management Act does not currently provide adequate legislative accountability and oversight over the regulations published in terms of it, the duration of a state of disaster, nor in respect of the extension of a state of disaster”.
“In a constitutional democracy, any legislation, which has such severe consequences and which impacts all the citizens and their human rights should be subject to more legislative accountability and oversight”.
The portfolio committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs will process the bill.
The NHTL has until 4 April 2021 to make any comments on the bill.