The 30-day extension to South Africa’s Covid-19 regulations will expire at midnight…meaning, unless the government makes another late-night announcement, South Africans will no longer be required to wear masks or to comply with any other Covid -19 regulations from tomorrow, Thursday May 5th. However, South Africans are awaiting clarification from President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC government on their plans for health regulations going forward.
The South African government initially extended the regulations for 30 days after the end of the national state of disaster in early April, in order to implement permanent regulations.
The public was invited to comment on the draft health regulations by April 24. This gave Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla and his department just 12 days to process and analyze more than 300,000 submissions before tomorrow’s deadline.
“At this time, the minister has not provided any comment on the DA’s various requests and suggestions to ensure transparency and oversight,” DA Shadow Health Minister Michele Clarke said in a statement today. . “There is currently no confirmation that an audit has been performed to indicate whether submissions lost due to a technical issue have been retrieved and included.”
Clarke warns that “these draconian health regulatory proposals could have far-reaching implications for the constitutional rights of the public” and that any concerns should be addressed by the Department of Health.
If the government moves forward with plans to permanently enshrine these regulations in law, AfriForum says it, along with public participation platform DearSA, will launch legal action against the proposed regulations.
“AfriForum’s court documents have already been finalized and our legal team is ready to immediately fight these amendments if they become effective. AfriForum will take legal action to review the surprisingly unjustifiable regulations,” says Jacques Broodryk, Head of Campaigns at AfriForum.
AfriForum maintains that the draft regulations are ultra vires and therefore outside the intended scope of the legislation. It was never the intention of the legislator for these laws to have such far-reaching effects and consequences, says AfriForum, pointing out that some of these proposed regulations, such as forced quarantine, have already been canceled by the court.
DearSA also expresses concern about how the South African government is handling the public participation process.
“The number of comments submitted, cited by health officials, is far below the number of comments DearSA has received and submitted on behalf of public participants. More … than 95% of the 283,000 comments we received rejected these regulations in its entirety. A detailed report of all of these individual comments will be made available to the public shortly,” said Gideon Joubert, CEO of DearSA.
AfriForum also submitted over 30,000 individual comments rejecting the regulations.
“There is no reason for these temporary health rules to be made permanent. While many countries around the world have abandoned regulations such as mask-wearing, the South African government now wants to enshrine these measures permanently in law. It’s absolutely illogical,” says Broodryk.