Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on Wednesday, 14 April 2021, gazetted the extension of the COVID-19 National State of Disaster until 15 May 2021.
“We must sustain our commitment to remain responsive, agile and compassionate as we work to save lives and protect the livelihoods of all South Africans”
Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
CoGTA explained in a statement that the “extension is in terms of section 27(5)(c) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002). It was postponed following consultations with Cabinet.
Minister Dlamini-Zuma explained that she had taken into account “the need to continue augmenting the existing legislation and contingency arrangements undertaken by organs of state to mitigate against the impact of the disaster on lives and livelihoods”.
Prior to this, the State of Disaster laws were extended for 35 days in March, with Minister Dlamini-Zuma saying at the time the extension would stay in place until 15 April 2021.
The State of Disaster will likely be extended again on 15 May. Despite COVID-19 infection rates decreasing, the virus is still “in circulation” and the vaccine hold-up could only exacerbate the delay.
The first reported case of COVID-19 in Africa was recorded on 27 February 2020 in Nigeria, with the NICD confirming the first South African case on 4 March 2020.
Despite the country’s low caseload at the time (61 confirmed cases and zero deaths), President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a State of Disaster in effect from 15 March 2020.
At the time, Dlamini-Zuma said the implementation of the National State of Disaster was necessary to assist in protecting the public as well as provide relief, protect property, and prevent disruption.
Once the motion was approved, Cabinet urged South Africans to “build on the momentum of this encouraging news and continue to work together to consistently do the right things”.
South Africans were reminded to practise social distancing, continue to wear masks, and wash and sanitise hands regularly.