South Africa: Parliament Statement - Why Court Should Dismiss Application Ordering Parliament to Pass Law On Covid-19


The Gauteng Division of the High Court (Pretoria) is hearing an urgent application tomorrow, seeking an order directing Parliament to pass special legislation for management of COVID-19 in South Africa.

Speaker of the National Assembly Ms Thandi Modise's answering affidavit, to this application from the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF), details why it should be dismissed.

Ms Modise's affidavit, which you can read here, includes the reasons below.

The basis for the urgent application - that Parliament has failed to fulfil its constitutional obligations to initiate and pass legislation to regulate the state's COVID-19 response - is mistaken in fact and in law.

The HSF has failed to identify a right specifically requiring the COVID-19 legislation for which it asks. The sections of the Constitution on which the HSF application relies are discretionary and empowering. They preserve Parliament's autonomy to carry out its lawmaking responsibilities, without undue interference from the courts.

The Disaster Management Act (DMA) of 2002, which Parliament passed, provides for government's response to a National Disaster, like COVID-19.

The DMA appropriately and lawfully delegates Parliament's legislative power to deal with disasters, such as, COVID-19 comprehensively and effectively. It is sufficiently broad to enable the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Cabinet to deal with the COVID-19 disaster. It places appropriate constraints on the delegation to the Minister and the Cabinet, by limiting this to what is absolutely necessary to contain the disaster.

Parliament also has scrutinised and overseen how the Executive has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has applied the DMA.

Through its various multi-party committees, Parliament has exercised its oversight functions and responsibilities, in line with the Constitution, and continues to do so. The HSF has not offered credible evidence suggesting otherwise.

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