The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has called for the “immediate and urgent” reopening of Parliament to hold the government and “in particular the President” accountable for decisions related to COVID-19.
In a statement on Thursday, the party said President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Cabinet have not been held accountable since announcing the lockdown in March.
“Despite the many letters and parliamentary questions submitted by members of Parliament, the majority of members of the Executive are not responding,” it said.
Tshwane Events Centre
The EFF proposed that Parliament should be convened at the Tshwane Events Centre in Gauteng because it is “spacious enough” and a “significant majority” of MPs would have “convenient access” to Pretoria.
Measures to guarantee the safety of MPs and staff members, such as social distancing, should be in place before the reopening, it added.
The EFF accused the media of not asking Ramaphosa questions, adding, “This reveals the open secret that the sitting President is the blue-eye boy of the white capitalist establishment which owns and controls media in South Africa.”
Ramaphosa has had a number of media engagements during the lockdown, most recently during his visits to KwaZulu-Natal last week and Eastern Cape on Thursday.
‘Corruption during lockdown’
However, the EFF said, “We are making these demands because there is a lot of reported corruption, negligence and lawless expenditure of public resources during the lockdown and the President is not being held accountable.
“We are making these demands because Ministers are busy destroying state-owned companies and some [are] rushing to multilateral financial institutions to borrow money which will result in huge intergenerational debts and compromise the sovereignty of South Africa to decide its own fiscal and monetary policies.”
A number of Ministers have participated in virtual meetings with Parliamentary committees in recent weeks, but the EFF said these are “not adequate because they are subject to disruptions, hacking and time-constraining limitations.”
“Efforts to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19 should not lead to the erosion of constitutional democracy where the President has assumed a monarchical posture where he addresses the nation without being asked questions,” it added.
DA, FF Plus challenge Disaster Act in court
The Democratic Alliance (DA) and FF Plus have raised similar concerns regarding the constitutionality of the Disaster Management Act and announced that they will move to court.
In a statement on Thursday, the DA said, “The State of Disaster we are currently under, governed by the Disaster Management Act, has zero provision for oversight. The secretive national command council answers to no one.
“A State of Emergency, which confers sweeping executive power and is a further step up from a State of Disaster, has parliamentary oversight. So there is no logical reason that a State of Disaster would not have this. This surely could not have been the intention of the authors of the Disaster Management Act.”
The FF Plus added, “It has become evident that the government is abusing its powers by invoking the National Disaster Management Act instead of the State of Emergency Act, seeing as a state of emergency may only be implemented for three weeks and all regulations require Parliament’s approval and oversight, which entails the involvement of all represented political parties.”