Flash Briefing: Scientists call for end to ‘unnecessary’ state of disaster; Mantashe dismisses ‘irreparable harm’ findings re. Shell seismic survey; Sisulu’s “reckless” tirade

  • With the end of the fourth wave of Covid-19 on the horizon in SA and the end of the current national state of disaster due in a few days, scientists and politicians have made calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to allow it to lapse as it is no longer considered necessary and undermines democracy. Shabir Madhi, the Dean of the University of Witwatersrand’s faculty of health sciences and professor of vaccinology, has said there is no reason to renew the state of disaster. He says that the country has effectively lifted all restrictions and that it now needs to work on rebuilding the economy. Madhi furthermore said that the National Coronavirus Command Council also needs greater oversight. Acting deputy director-general of the health department, Nicholas Crisp said that the national state of disaster is still needed to give effect to standing lockdown restrictions like the public mask mandate.
  • Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe says that there’s no need for his department to review the decision granting Shell exploration rights on the Wild Coast, because it has already deemed the gas and oil exploration activities would not have a detrimental impact on the environment. The minister’s comments are in contrast to the High Court ruling which found evidence that the seismic survey would irreparably harm marine life. Communities on the Wild Coast rallied and launched a court bid for an urgent interdict against Shell’s activities. Mantashe said the project was being “oppressed” over environmental concerns that have “low significance”.
  • The government has distanced itself from tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s “reckless” tirade against South Africa’s constitution, where she suggested that it has done nothing but keep the masses in poverty. In her rant, Sisulu – who has been a part of the ruling government since it was voted into power in 1994 – said the Constitution gave rise to a sea of poverty and didn’t do enough for transformation and economic reconciliation. The opinion piece was widely panned, saying the points raised were a result of a failure of government, not the constitution.
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