COVID-19: Clinging to power for a bit longer

Quite unceremoniously, South Africans have been informed that the National State of Disaster has, once again, been extended until 15 April 2022. That is after the President’s indication that the current arrangement, which would have ended today at 24:00, would have been the last.

The irony is that there is no ‘state of disaster’. For average South Africans, those who do not suffer from irrational fear, nor benefit from the current Covid-narrative, the virus is at the bottom of the list of things to be concerned about.

But Minister Dlamini Zuma is a powerful lady, and she has a point to prove.

So, for the time being, we are stuck with the ‘state of disaster’. Dropping the extraordinary powers bestowed on the National Coronavirus Command Council by the Disaster Management Act, simply proved a bridge too far.

We know that they want an alternative in place before they relinquish their current position of power, and to replace the ‘state of disaster’ with something which at least appears sensible. Apparently, this is a time-consuming exercise, especially when the bureaucrats working on these finer details are not that eager to bring to an end the mechanism that gave them a sense of importance over the last two years.

Perhaps the whole spectacle is extended in the hope of the arrival of the ‘fifth wave’.

In the meantime, country after country is dropping Covid measures, possibly as a result of the realisation that the measures, introduced over the last two years, constituted severe breaches of constitutional rights and freedoms. Perhaps they are realising that the writing is on the wall, that the cat is slowly being let out of the bag and that the whole scandal is about to be exposed. Nobody wants to get caught red-handed, having been in the wrong all along.

In our case, Government falls in none of these categories. They are merely plotting something – most likely something sinister.

By Gerhard Papenfus, Chief Executive of the National Employers' Association of South Africa (NEASA).