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Lockdown regulations set for ConCourt scrutiny as DA, HSF lodge submissions

The Democratic Alliance wants the court to compel adequate parliamentary oversight over the Disaster Management Act, while the Helen Suzman Foundation wants the court to force Parliament to make special laws around the regulations.

FILE: The Constitutional Court. Picture: Clement Manyathela/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Constitutional Court now has two submissions before it dealing with the national lockdown and the associated regulations.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) wants the court to compel adequate parliamentary oversight over the Disaster Management Act, that's the law that allows for the lockdown and its special regulations.

In a separate case, the Helen Suzman Foundation wants the court to force Parliament to make special laws around the regulations.

Since President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster, the nation has been operating under a very different set of rules.

The Disaster Management Act allows law-making and executive powers to vest with the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Legal counsellor at the Helen Suzman Foundation, Anton van Dalsen, believes this was an acceptable response to the pandemic in the short run.

But now things have to change: “This is going to be with us for some time. It is necessary for government and specifically for Parliament and the executive to fulfill their constitutional duties to pass enabling legislation for government to deal with this [pandemic].”

In court papers, the foundation argues that both Parliament and the Cabinet have failed in their constitutional duties to exercise their respective legislative and executive authority and this has diminished transparency.

“Parliament, in terms of the Constitution, has an oversight duty over the Executive and it has to be able to fulfill that duty because up to now there has been zero oversight.”

The organisation wants the matter to be heard on an urgent basis.