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By Citizen Reporter

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Dlamini-Zuma ordered to reveal why South Africans couldn’t smoke or drink alcohol during lockdown

Covid-19 regulations were repealed on 22 June this year.


Following a two-year court battle, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has been compelled to reveal the reasons behind decisions taken by government during Covid-19 lockdowns.

Government had been heavily criticised for the decisions implemented under the Disaster Management Act in the past two years – including the banning of the sale of cigarettes and alcohol.

The Ramaphosa-led administration also came under fire for its multiple extensions of the National State of Disaster without parliamentary oversight.

‘Unprecedented harm’

While Covid-19 restrictions are not in place anymore, Dlamini-Zuma has been ordered to hand over records of the lockdown decision processes to Sakeliga, which won its litigation against the minister.

“The public will now be able to see for themselves for what apparent reasons Dlamini-Zuma and her department imposed police state conditions on the public to ensure people stayed in their homes, schools and universities remained closed, churches could not congregate, and businesses remained shut,” Sakeliga CEO Piet le Roux said in a statement on Wednesday.

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Le Roux said the non-profit company (NPC) was of the view that Covid-19 regulations, authorised by Dlamini-Zuma and Cabinet, “did unprecedented harm to economic and social activity”.

He confirmed that the documents would be made public and hoped that they would be used to hold the government to account “for the harmful decisions and to prevent such egregious abuses of power re-occurring in the future”.

Contempt of court

Dlamini-Zuma must give the documents – which include reasons, reports, findings, deliberations, communications and memoranda – to Sakeliga by 9 December, according to Le Roux.

If the minister fails to do so, the NPC will proceeding with an application to hold her guilty of contempt of court.

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“It is of course possible that Dlamini-Zuma will claim that, in large part, the records to be provided in terms of the court order do not exist.

“Such a reaction would confirm suspicions that improper and arbitrary decision-making processes were followed in making Covid regulations. Even more so, in that case, it would mean that the government must and can now be called to account for gravely irresponsible actions,” the CEO continued.

Regulations

Covid-19 regulations were repealed on 22 June, ending the mandate to wear masks in indoor public arenas, the restriction on the number of people at gatherings, and vaccination certificates to enter the country.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla had attempted to impose temporary regulations on a permanent basis under the National Health Act.

Phaahla at the time argued that the health regulations would ensure there were enough protective measures to replace the Disaster Management Act.

This was after the Disaster Management Amendment Bill was rejected by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Cogta earlier this year.

The bill, which was first introduced by Freedom Front Plus (FF+) MP Pieter Groenewald in February 2021, was not adopted by the committee following a majority vote.

Parliament, in June 2022, also decided against proceeding with reports on the National Health Amendment Bill.

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