The first edition of SA’s COVID-19 Country Report, recommends the Disaster Management Act (DMA), which was used to enforce rules when the COVID-19 pandemic started, should be amended to incorporate lessons learnt during those early phases.
The report, compiled by the Department of Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation, in collaboration with the Government Technical Advisory Centre and the National Research Foundation, covered the first two waves of the pandemic – from March 2020 to March 2021.
Godfrey Mashamba, the department’s deputy director-general, said: “The DMA is getting tested all the time, like in the recent floods. It was also recommended that the State of Disaster must not be prolonged … should be as short-lived as possible, and lifted as soon as the threat is addressed.”
After almost two years of the pandemic, the country withdrew the DMA, but reinstated it again in KwaZulu-Natal, in response to the devastating floods which killed a number of people and left scores more homeless.
Mashamba said measures to curb the pandemic were meant to save lives, but they also introduced new dynamics.
“Government needs to balance the legal and ethical aspects of limiting people’s freedoms. There were several court challenges – and, in a number of these, the court determined that, in the main, the government was right.”
He said the pandemic, which began as a health crisis, had far-reaching implications for the rest of society.
“It came when the economy was very fragile. We lost 2m jobs, and investment halted. It set us back in terms of equality, investment and jobs. There were more sectors exposed to the ravages of the lockdown.
“The realities of the informal sector … the government needs to understand this better, because the way it affected certain communities … people could not get food. They had to travel to nearby shopping malls to buy food and that required them to pay for transport,” Mashamba said.sa-covid-19-reporta
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