The African Transformation Movement (ATM) is taking Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and President Cyril Ramaphosa to court to declare the ban on religious gatherings as unconstitutional.
In March last year, Ramaphosa announced a national lockdown that banned all gatherings. The ban was lifted in September, and again implemented in December when cases started to rise.
While travel is still allowed with strict conditions, and entertainment places opened with restrictions on the number of people allowed, churches remain closed.
“In all this time from March to September 2020, there has not been a scientific evidence that the faith-based or religious gatherings are super-spreader events and there are no known or reported cases that churches were not observing the lockdown regulations the super spreader events remain funerals and other gatherings.
“It is significant, that even though the faith-based or religious are absolutely prohibited, gatherings at entertainment places like cinemas, theatres, casinos are open for attendance with certain restrictions.
“The decision to close or absolutely prohibit the faith-based gatherings is based on nothing but discrimination on the grounds of favouring the commercial gatherings, and disadvantage the religious gatherings, albeit to state that the churches contribute to spiritual and psychological relief of human lives.”
The ATM argues this is unconstitutional and has filed court papers for the restrictions to be declared as such.
The ATM wants the court to “declare to be irrational and invalid, and be hereby set aside the decision to absolutely prohibit the faith-based or religious gatherings. Review the decision to absolutely prohibit and ban the faith-based or religious gatherings under adjusted alert level 3 of the regulations”.
The party is arguing for religious gatherings to be allowed with restrictions.
“Parts of the disaster regulations are sensible and appropriate to govern the spread of the virus. However, there are other parts that do little, if anything, to prevent the spread of the virus. Essential services like places of worship are absolutely prohibited despite the enormous role they play in human lives. Religious services are essential services,” argues the party.