Heads must roll, says DA as it announces three lockdown decisions it will challenge in court

DA leader John Steenhuisen. Picture: Veli Nhlapo

The DA leader has accused the president of playing on people’s fears.

Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen has announced the court action his party is taking to end the national lockdown that he claims has been tearing the society and economy to pieces.

The party’s lawyers will file papers in the High Court challenging the rationality of the night curfew, restrictions on e-commerce and the limited three-hour window for exercise.

“Tomorrow [Friday], our lawyers will be filing court papers challenging the constitutionality of the Disaster Management Act. Because if the Act does not meet constitutional muster, it means the decisions taken by the National Command Council under this Act are not valid.

“This is an extremely important case, because it speaks to one of the most crucial principles in our democracy, the separation of powers. We have an executive branch of government (cabinet) and a separate legislative branch (parliament) for very good reason.

“The State of Disaster we are currently under, governed by the Disaster Management Act, has zero provision for oversight. The secretive NCC answers to no one,” said the party in a statement.

Also read: Western Cape must move to level 3 before end of May, says Winde

The party further asked South Africans donate funds to help fund the court bid.

“We must question the constitutionality of having these decisions passed down by a secretive sub-group of the Executive with no clearly defined authority.”

The DA has called for the national Covid-19 lockdown to end “swiftly”, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on Wednesday evening.

According to Steenhuisen, the lockdown has destroyed more lives than it has saved, with millions of jobs lost.

“The DA supported the first three-week national lockdown, to buy time to gather healthcare resources and prepare hospitals. Sadly, this did not happen, except in the Western Cape. Heads must roll.

“The initial lockdown was also an opportunity to build test, track, trace capacity so that a smart lockdown (localised lockdowns) could be pursued. Sadly, this has not happened, except in the Western Cape. Heads must roll.

“The last two to four weeks of lockdown have not been necessary, rational or justified. Cyril Ramaphosa is being disingenuous in suggesting that the lockdown has saved lives. It has merely delayed the peak. But the peak is inevitable whether we lock down or not.

“It is not a rational strategy and has not been so for weeks. It is irrational and disproportionate to the scale of the risk that Covid-19 poses, relative to other risks. And it has not been supported by an adequate safety net for poor people and small businesses,” said Steenhuisen. 

(Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde)

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