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'No court would uphold a state of emergency declared by Zuma'

According to newspaper Rapport, there are a proposed draft regulations for a state of emergency put together by a team allegedly appointed by President Jacob Zuma.

The newspaper claims a draft has been sent to the South African National Defence Force for input.

However, the Presidency has rubbished these reports saying no such draft regulation exist, though no explanation about the document in possession of the newspaper has been forthcoming.

But how freely can President Jacob Zuma announce a state of emergency? Speculation that he is putting these regulations in place should his proxy loses at Nasrec this coming weekend are rife.

No, he can't. It is always important that we start with our founding documents, which is our Constitution.

Judith February, ISS senior research associate

Senior research associate at the Institute For Security Studies, Judith February outlines what the Constitution of South Africa says about declaring a state of emergency in terms of Section 37.

It states in subsection 1a, that certain rights of citizens be limited during a state of emergency when 'the life of the nation is threatened by war‚ invasion‚ disorder‚ general insurrection, natural disaster or any other public emergency.' And secondly in subsection 1b, 'the declaration is necessary to restore peace and order.'

But the regulations also place strict procedural limits on the declaration of states of emergency and provides for the rights of people should they be detained as a result.

21 days is the length the state of emergency may last from the date of the declaration. The National Assembly does, however, have the power to extend the declaration.

Important to note, she adds, is subsection 3, which says any competent court may decide on the validity of a state of emergency.

It is good that as journalists this document is being exposed she says.

But it is a very long way until we are at the point where a state of emergency can be declared, but it does show the desperate state Jacob Zuma is in.

Judith February, ISS senior research associate

We can't say he will never do it....but if we look at these draft regulations, they look like something out of the PW Botha playbook, then one would be surprised if a court would declare something like that valid in a constitutional democracy which is open and transparent.

Judith February, ISS senior research associate

To hear more on whether the president can declare a state of emergency, listen below:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 'No court would uphold a state of emergency declared by Zuma'


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