Home South African Mthethwa slams EFF plans to picket outside dept as bizarre and misguided...

Mthethwa slams EFF plans to picket outside dept as bizarre and misguided theatrics

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The EFF will on Thursday picket outside the offices of Department of Sport, Arts and Culture in Pretoria in protest against lockdown restrictions that prohibit supporters from attending events at stadiums.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa. Picture: Kopano Tlape GCIS

SPORT, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has slammed the EFF’s upcoming protest outside the department’s office to demand the opening of stadiums, saying the move was “misguided” and “bizarre”.

The EFF will on Thursday picket outside the offices of the department in Pretoria against lockdown restrictions that prohibit supporters from attending events at stadiums.

“The EFF calls for the return of supporters to the stadiums. Many sectors, including street vendors, have lost so much due to the closure of stadiums. Sports and arts are on the verge of collapse and need our protection,” the party said.

In a statement on Wednesday, the department said Mthethwa received correspondence from the EFF about the picket.

“The choice to picket at the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and direct attention at the minister on a matter based on the Disaster Management Act is quite curious and misguided,” the department said.

“This is particularly so since the EFF is a political party represented in Parliament and various legislatures and therefore part of lawmaking. An elementary reading of the Disaster Management Act proves the fact that calling on the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture to open up stadiums is foolhardy as much as it is bizarre. The minister is not empowered to make any such decisions and the EFF should know this,” the department said.

“It begs the question, what truthfully motivates their irrational nitpickings of Minister Nathi Mthethwa?”

With Covid-19 vaccines accessible to all South Africans, a partnership-type approach was embarked on with sports and creatives’ personalities and bodies, the department said. This resulted in the formulation of the Safe Return of Spectators strategy at sport, arts and culture events as well as venues. Fundamental to this strategy is a phased-in approach.

The strategy proposes opening to 2,000 spectators as the first phase, which was accomplished in October 2021. It is intended to scale up to Phase 2, 3 and the last phase at 50%, 75% and 100%, respectively. The initial target was to be at 75% by now but the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant made this target unachievable by the initial time frame, the department said.

This strategy is currently under consideration through Cabinet-related processes responsible for South Africa’s response to Covid-19, the department added.

“No amount of irrationality, vulgarity or grandstanding will intimidate the minister, his department or government into populist and irresponsible decision-making and actions. The EFF is ill-advised to assume that its theatrics will bear any fruit.”

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