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Mabuza: Dlamini-Zuma is not functioning as a de facto prime minister

David Mabuza has also told Parliament that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) has not usurped any of the powers or functions of any of the three arms of the state, including Parliament.

FILE: Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma speaking at a media briefing on Sunday 25 April 2020. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - Deputy President David Mabuza said it was not true that his Cabinet colleague, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, was functioning as a de facto prime minister (PM) as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.

As cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister, Dlamini-Zuma is responsible for administering the Disaster Management Act, in terms of which President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national disaster on 15 March to deal with COVID-19.

Mabuza has also told Parliament that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) has not usurped any of the powers or functions of any of the three arms of the state, including Parliament.

Mabuza was answering questions by way of a virtual platform during a sitting of the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon.

Opposition parties have for some time questioned the constitutionality of the National Coronavirus Command Council, claiming that it operates without any parliamentary oversight.

DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone took up the cudgels again: “Minister Dlamini-Zuma now has an incredible amount of power because she’s in fact in charge of running this command council given that she’s in charge of the Disaster Management Act – so what we have is an unelected prime minister who is governing over an unelected sub-Parliament of ministers with a deputy president who is the leader of government business who is somewhat side-lined and a president who is seemingly powerless. Why is Parliament not being used to conduct oversight over the NCCC?”

Mabuza told the House that the NCCC was a sub-structure of Cabinet and all its decisions go to Cabinet for approval. As such, its members were accountable to Parliament.

“We’ve not abdicated that responsibility. And it would be incorrect to say that Minister Dlamini-Zuma is now prime minister. It’s because of her role as Cogta minister – Cogta is the one that administers the acts under which we have declared our national disaster.”

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