The national coronavirus command council (NCCC) has not stripped parliament of its powers to hold ministers managing the Covid-19 crisis accountable.
This is according to Deputy President David Mabuza, who on Thursday appeared in parliament for a question-and-answer session.
He was responding to DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone, who had asked what contributions the deputy president had made to the council and his role in ensuring that ministers attend to parliamentary business with urgency.
“The decisions arrived at are collective decisions of the executive and not personal viewpoints. The establishment of the NCCC has not in any shape or form usurped the powers, responsibilities and functions of any of the three arms of state, including parliament, in its responsibility of exercising oversight over the executive, as well as facilitating public participation in the legislative process,” said Mabuza.
The DA has applied for direct access to the Constitutional Court to argue against the constitutional validity of certain parts of the Disaster Management Act. In particular, the party believes that parliament should be able to veto certain decisions taken under the act by members of the executive.
“I must correct one assertion: the command council is a sub-structure of cabinet. It is a structure which has been formed by cabinet and who is sitting there in the command council are ministers,” said Mabuza.
“The president is chairing the command council, I sit as deputy president, we have got ministers and we have got NatJoints [National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure] and that is it.
“This structure is processing, on a daily basis, the impact, looking at the spread of this virus and recommending certain decisions to cabinet. That means that cabinet is still in charge.
“So cabinet is accountable in terms of its own workings. As members of cabinet, we are accountable to parliament in terms of our workings, what we do on a daily basis.”
He also disputed an assertion made by Mazzone that Cogta minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was acting as a de facto “prime minister” of sorts.
“We have not abdicated that responsibility and it will be incorrect to say, honourable member, that minister Dlamini-Zuma is now prime minister. It is because of her role as minister of Cogta – and Cogta is the one that administers the act, under which we have declared our national disaster.”