The highly specific list of winter clothes and goods deemed “essential” in Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel’s gazetted directions has been roundly slammed.
Except, Patel is not in it alone as the list was based on data on winter clothing trends gathered over years.
That was according to National Clothing Retail Federation of South Africa executive director Michael Lawrence, who said that the list had been a collaboration between the department, the federation, manufacturers and others.
“When we were asked for our opinion, we concurred with it based on consumer feedback we had received through our social media categories asking for those specific categories to be available,” Lawrence said.
“When it comes to managing customer expectations and our own designation of what we put out, as well as the sometimes necessary law enforcement dynamics, we needed to find a way to broaden some fairly generic categories.”
Lawrence noted that level 4 of the current lockdown was never meant to go on forever.
Stunned, madness, laughable, and irrational were some of the more print-friendly derisive comments slung Patel’s way.
Democratic Alliance spokesperson for trade and industry Dean Macpherson said the new clothing regulations were “frankly mad and seem more in place during the ’80s under the Soviet Union than in a democracy like SA”.
“There is simply no justification for the minister to be determining what clothes people can buy and worse, how they should wear them,” McPherson said.
The selling of shirts that were “to be worn under jacket coats and/or knitwear” was “ridiculous and insulting to South Africans’ intelligence”, the buying of “crop bottom pants so long as they [were] worn with boots and leggings” was “just ridiculous”, and only being allowed to buy “closed toe” shoes was “just laughable”.
But National Clothing Retail Federation chairperson Anthony Thunstrom welcomed the new directions.
“The federation has participated in robust engagement with government and stakeholders to construct the list of essential consumer items for winter clothing and textile items,” he said.
“The leadership of Minister Patel was appreciated throughout the consultations.”