DA wins first round in court battle

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The opposition party is challenging the legitimacy of the Disaster Management Act in an attempt to challenge the coronavirus lockdown regulations.

The DA has welcomed a Constitutional Court directive saying it will consider arguments in its application for direct access to challenge the Disaster Management Act, under which the national coronavirus command council was formed and the lockdown regulations created. 

The Court could have denied the DA the opportunity outright, by sending it to the high court first. However, it said on Friday it would hear what the party had to say before deciding where the matter should be heard.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are arguing that the DA should not be granted direct access to the Court.

“They are effectively seeking to delay an answer to the central question of whether the national coronavirus command council (NCCC) is legitimate,” the DA said.

“If the DA is refused direct access, we will need to first challenge the Disaster Management Act in the high court, which opens up scope for an appeal [against its] findings. This would mean it could take some months before the Constitutional Court is able to make a final decision on the matter,” the party said.

The DA has until June 5 to to submit its arguments, while Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma have until June 12 to respond.

“If the Disaster Management Act does not meet constitutional muster, it means the decisions taken by the NCCC under this act are not valid. This opens the way for more rationality and accountability in the management of this pandemic and of our economy going forwards.

“The NCCC decision-making to date has resulted in one of the world’s longest and most irrational hard lockdowns. This has destroyed millions of jobs and lives, thousands of businesses, and wasted billions in tax revenue, without managing to keep control over the spread of the virus,” the DA said.

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