The DA has explained why it is taking the government to court over the lockdown.
- The DA will continue its court challenge against the restriction on hairdressers and salons under Level 3 lockdown.
- This despite President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of the further easing of restrictions, including the reopening of salons.
- The party’s John Steenhuisen says Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma must still file a responding affidavit to its court challenge.
The DA says it is wary about the government making a U-turn on the decision to reopen salons and the personal care industry, lest “what happened with tobacco sales happens again.”
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This is why the party is not yet prepared to abandon its court application in the Western Cape High Court calling for the reopening of salons and hairdressers even though President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement on Wednesday.
“Until we see the regulations and until a date is announced, we will continue fighting it in court,” DA MP Dean Macpherson said, adding Ramaphosa did not give any indication when salons would reopen.
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“Due to the recent history of President Ramaphosa being overturned by Minister Dlamini-Zuma on important issues like this, the DA will continue to pursue our court case until such time as the regulations for the personal care industry are published and a firm date is given for them to reopen”.
Macpherson was referencing the controversy earlier in the lockdown when, after Ramaphosa announced the ban on cigarette sales would be lifted, the government made an unexpected U-turn.
In an address to the nation on Wednesday evening, the president announced several sectors – including the personal care industry, restaurants, cinemas, casinos and non-contact sport – would reopen, provided they adhered to safety and prevention protocols to combat the spread of Covid-19.
But the DA said it was not taking Ramaphosa by his word and was waiting for the regulations to be gazetted by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Since Ramaphosa announced a five-alert level lockdown, the DA has been busy with litigation, targeting some of the Cabinet’s decisions.
Its biggest fight is in the Constitutional Court, where the party is challenging the constitutionality of the Disaster Management Act.
In its papers, the DA is arguing the act does not allow for the oversight of the executive and Ramaphosa by the National Assembly. It is calling for an amendment.
Meanwhile in the high courts, the party has been at pains to prove the lockdown is irrational and detrimental to the economy – a strategy some political players, including the SACP and IFP, called opportunistic.
The DA’s challenging of the regulations kicked off in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria when it sought an urgent relief to prevent what it said was the unlawful use of B-BBEE status, race, gender, age or disability as criteria in relation to economic or other forms of relief or assistance. Judgment in that case has been reserved.
Days later, the DA applied to the same court to challenge the lawfulness of specific lockdown regulations related to the military enforced night curfew, the ban on e-commerce and restriction on exercise hours.
In April, Ramaphosa announced the introduction of five levels of lockdown, which included the deployment of the country’s military to monitor and maintain order.
The DA’s interim leader, John Steenhuisen, called the regulations draconian in nature.
The party’s efforts in approaching the courts were thwarted when Ramaphosa eventually announced the move to Level 3. This meant the further easing of regulations.
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Speaking to News24, Steenhuisen’s spokesperson, Azola Mboniswa, said challenging the restrictions on the right to movement had since become moot, adding if the country moved to Level 4 and the restrictions implemented “we may re-enrol it again.”
The DA is sticking to its guns on all cases brought before the courts despite announcements by the president.
In the hairdresser matter, Dlamini-Zuma will still need to file her responding affidavits to the court by 18 June.
The DA is not the only party challenging the government.
The FF Plus has also challenged the Disaster Management Act in the High Court.
While Ramaphosa has previously stated South Africans have a right to challenge decisions related to the lockdown in court, his administration has decided to appeal judgments that did not go its way.
Currently, the government is appealing a judgment by Judge Norman Davis that declared all alert levels 4 and 3 regulations irrational and unconstitutional.
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