Dear SA wants clarity on consultation process for Health Act amendments

The organisation’s Rob Hutchinson said that they were drafting legal papers to challenge government’s latest restrictions, which comes after the country recorded more than 9,000 new COVID-19 infections in the latest reporting cycle.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla. Picture: @GCISMedia/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Civic organisation Dear South Africa said that the public consultation process on the proposed amendments to the Health Act had been brought into question by the latest publication of the limited regulations dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organisation’s Rob Hutchinson said that they were drafting legal papers to challenge government’s latest restrictions, which comes after the country recorded more than 9,000 new COVID-19 infections in the latest reporting cycle.

The Health Department announced that the period for public consultation on the proposed health regulations would be extended by three months after receiving more than 200,000 submissions from the public but Hutchinson said that even this needed clarification.

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Dear South Africa’s Rob Hutchinson said that they needed clarity on what the public consultation process was for if the health minister had seemingly implemented the limited regulations without public participation while the period for public comment on earlier regulations out for consultation had been extended.

"If the minister has published a handful of regulations and made them permanent immediately, why are we continuing with the public comment period for an extra 90 days on other regulations?" Hutchinson asked.

Hutchinson said that they’d also sought clarity on when exactly the 90-day extension ends.

"The 90-day extension that has been granted on the existing draft regulations and again there is confusion there – is it the fifth of July or the fifth of August?" Hutchinson asked.

Meanwhile, professor for vaccinology at Wits University, Shabir Mahdi, said that the department should stop procrastinating by enforcing the regulations, which he said were ineffective.

"All of these regulations have done very little in protecting people from being infected because had they worked, we wouldn’t have had close onto 85% of the population being infected with the virus at least once since the start of the pandemic," Mahdi said.

Government maintains that the regulations are not meant to police individuals but rather act as guidelines to try and curb the spread of COVID-19.