'Slippery slope' - DA takes govt to court over lockdown regulations

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The DA is taking the government to court in two separate matters which challenge the validity of some aspects of the national lockdown, including the military-enforced night curfew, the ban on e-commerce and the restriction on exercise hours.

"It is our opinion – and it is the view of many South Africans – that all three of these decisions should be immediately reversed, as there are no rational justifications for a military-enforced curfew, a restriction on e-commerce business and a limited three-hour window for exercise," DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said on Thursday. 

The party will also file court papers challenging the constitutionality of having no parliamentary oversight inscribed in the Disaster Management Act.

"Because, unless the Act meets constitutional muster, the decisions taken by the National [Coronavirus] Command Council under this Act are not valid," he said.

This after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that most of the country may drop to Level 3 of the national lockdown at the end of May. In a statement shortly after the address, Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa was attempting to defend the indefensible.

He called for an end to the lockdown, citing that it had cost more lives than it had saved. 

Irrational decisions

Steenhuisen called out the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) for what he deemed irrational decisions and for acting without any checks and balances. 

He said the State of Disaster that South Africa was currently under, governed by the Disaster Management Act, had zero provision for parliamentary oversight. 

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"Which means this secretive National Command Council answers to no one. Now, consider that not even a State of Emergency, which is a further step up from a State of Disaster, has such sweeping powers with no parliamentary oversight. There is no logical reason for this, and it surely could not have been the intention of the authors of the Disaster Management Act."

The DA had earlier written to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise, calling for an oversight committee to be established over the executive in charge of the Covid-19 response, but she declined.

 

"But, right now, because of this lack of oversight, the Executive is effectively doing the job of writing our laws and regulations as they please, bypassing all the debate and possible opposition that would’ve happened in Parliament. We have to fight this, because from here our democracy finds itself on a very slippery slope.

"The DA will be asking the courts to apply the same oversight provisions to the State of Disaster as to the State of Emergency," he told journalists.

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