During a semi-virtual Parliamentary session, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, responded with an evasive answer to a question about the uncertainties created by various municipalities that are wrongfully issuing permits to business enterprises and individuals.
According to the Regulations, as published in the Government Gazette, municipal authorities do not have the power to issue any permits relating to the lockdown. And yet there are municipalities that issue permits to business enterprises and individuals to trade or to cross municipal borders. In other cases, the authorities refused to issue permits to business enterprises that are allowed to continue their operations according to the Regulations and as a result, law enforcers wrongfully forced these businesses to close.
After initially denying any knowledge of the problem, the Minister later conceded that she was indeed aware of the problem, but that action was taken to rectify it.
In a parliamentary question, the FF Plus communicated to the Minister that there is great confusion among law enforcement authorities about which permits business enterprises should have.
She was asked what will be done to address this and what the current situation is with regard to possible lawsuits by enterprises that are wrongfully prevented from continuing with their operations due to the confusion. The FF Plus also wanted to know how her Department is going to improve its communication with municipal authorities to ensure consistent implementation of the lockdown Regulations across the country.
In a follow-up question, the FF Plus presented a permit to the Minister which was issued to an individual by the Moqhaka Local Municipality (Kroonstad) to allow this person to cross municipal borders for a doctor's visit, but there is no permit needed for this type of travelling.
The FF Plus considers the Minister's response to be a cause for concern as it evident that the Minister was either unaware of the detrimental effects of the restrictive lockdown Regulations and the confusion caused by her Department's poor communication and implementation or that she was aware of it, but is trying to cover it up.
In the FF Plus's view, that explains why the government has such a callous attitude towards the South Africans who have fallen victim to the incorrect interpretation and implementation of the lockdown Regulations. If the problem of incorrect interpretations and poor communication is not addressed, the implementation of the differentiated lockdown levels in different regions will result in even greater confusion.