Minister must provide reasons for the ban on cooked and prepared food by midday on Tuesday, says party
THE DA wants answers from Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel on the amended lockdown regulations which will now see cooked hot food prohibited.
The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on Monday gazetted changes to the Disaster Management Act which governs the lockdown regulations.
The move by the government comes after there were complaints about the continued sale of cooked food by operating supermarket retailers. The amendments also follow a string of other amendments announced last week which deal with transportation, funerals and port operations.
The country’s lockdown is expected to end on April 30. The DA has been outspoken in its pushback against what it described as a “hard lockdown”. The party had presented scenarios which it said would help ease pressure on the economy while also restricting movement and tackling the Covid-19 outbreak.
On Monday, in reaction to the gazetted amendments, the party said it would seek answers as to why cooked food was being prohibited. It said several essential service workers relied on cooked meals as they go about their duties during the day.
“This will also be particularly devastating for the elderly who may be unable to cook food due to their frailty. I will now write to Patel through our lawyers requesting the reasons for this ban on cooked and prepared food which should be provided to us by midday on Tuesday, 20 April 2020. We will then be able to decide on our next course of action,” DA MP Dean Macpherson said.
The party also insists that the gazetted regulations were done after it threatened to take legal action against the government as Patel had previously claimed the sale of cooked food was banned, while the regulations did not state so.
“The DA was set to approach the North Gauteng High Court and lodge urgent papers to have Patel’s comments declared unlawful as well as to seek a personal costs order against him.
“Today’s (Monday) amendment now makes what was illegal, legal and is short-sighted and mean spirited, especially for front-line health care workers, members of the security services, essential service workers and transport workers like truck drivers who rely on cooked food due to the work they are doing,” Macpherson said.