27/01/2021
The Common Tator

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Of Court Cases and Things

There are several challenges to the draconian rules of the ANC led Disaster Management Act (DMA) do’s and don’ts, that are coming up soon and will define the short-term future of the country. Each of these has different sectoral origin’s and may or may not represent a fracturing of the iron control that the government has attempted to exert over its people. 

As South Africa entered its lockdown on 27 March 2020, there was heightened fear and uncertainty in the general populace brought about by the images of what was happening in Italy, France, the USA and commencing in the UK. This easily eclipsed what was happening in Sweden and other countries not committing economic suicide. 

The legislated rules accompanying the initial hard lockdown were deemed draconian but accepted as the stated reasons for the lockdown of “giving the health services time to prepare” were wholeheartedly accepted given the state of the public system. Even the extension by two weeks were expected and accepted. 

The birth of the black market in cigarettes and liquor occurred during the extension as each citizen realised that lockdown and banning’s were about to become normal. Added to this, Joe Citizen had during this time consulted the internet, and become expert in Covid-19 and epidemiology, our Constitution and the fact that there were varying degrees of “Fake News” circulating on social media. 

To add insult to injury, the mainstream media (MSM) was turned into either the state mouthpiece (News24, Times Media, IOL), or firmly in their camp such as the Mail & Guardian. Independent voices such as the Daily Friend (IRR news), Roman Cabanac’s Morning Shot, Jerm Warfare (@mynameisjerm) and CliffCentral showcasing Gareth Cliff came to the fore and started dominating social media feed. Questions were being raised on how South Africa would save the economy, the constitutionality of all this and where to from here. 

“Black” Twitter labelled saving the economy as saving white capital, and the legislation against non BBBEE SMME’s getting relief funding from the state was first tested by Afriforum. Sadly, the court did not have the ability to overrule the law, as the interpretation of the country’s laws is its mandate.
On approaching the Constitutional court, this was denied a hearing. How could this be? It was clearly not constitutional. I believe the answer lies in the format of the court challenge. Unfortunately, BEE legislation is an accepted part of the county’s legal framework, no matter whether it was successful in redressing historical injustice or benefiting only a few connected individuals. 

As the country was read into the new legislated rules of the Level 4 lockdown, and the farcical about face on cigarettes occurred, it became evident that another agenda was in play. Minister Dhlamini-Zuma (NDZ) at this time made a statement about “Class Suicide” which would lie in wait festering in the collective consciousness of Joe Citizen. Minister Patel then came out with his ridiculous clothing specifications, and it was clear that the conversion of the State and the economy via Radical Economic Transformation (RET) was the agenda, not the virus. 

The banning of food distribution by NGO’s and other help organisations was a poorly disguised vote rigging ploy, and the DA took this up on an urgent basis to the High Court. The court ruled that this ban would be stayed until the DA’s case could be heard on the 19th of June. Although this was celebrated as a victory, no judgement has yet been made, making the celebration premature. 

The first mention of constitutionality came with the open letter from the Advocates (Richards and Cassim) to the State President. In this letter, constitutional questions about the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and its constitutional mandate for making decisions. Apart from Erin basking in her newfound stardom on Twitter as @Advocateleopard, it did serve to ignite the DA and others to challenge the entire Disaster Management Act, the ability of the NCCC to make decisions and laws, and its constitutionality. This case is before both the Constitutional court and the High court as a backup. 

FITA’s (The tobacco lobby) High Court case against NDZ’s cigarette ban is building up some steam, with even the MSM beginning to question the efficacy of the State’s case. Of more interest should be why BAT quietly dropped its challenge. This has been a very quiet thing, and some commentators have seen conspiracy theories under that rock. The corruption motivation advanced against NDZ’s cigarette ban would appear misinformed, as it turns out it is merely a long-held bias and hobby horse. 

Now my role is not one of journalist, but that of a commentator. To wit, what does all of this mean. The use of the opportunity of Covid-19, and the early wins by an ANC led government in a bad place leading up to this, has been squandered. The disaster that is the SOE’s, the economic management of the country and Cyril’s inept, consultative approach to everything, not just this pandemic, has defused the ANC’s ability to change policy and thus to advance the country. 

Instead, racial tension, xenophobia, hunger and brutality have come to the fore. The chance of transforming away from bad economic policy in the form of EWC (Expropriation without Compensation), NHI (National Health Insurance) and BEE, to policy that could advance the cause of the now enlarged disadvantaged class has been lost. Every meeting of the NCCC or Cabinet is mired in factional discussion, with no leadership to a better South Africa emerging. The leadership within the ANC are all tainted by corruption allegations, without any clear, believable and charismatic leader emerging. 

The DA, and its interim and historic leadership have not shrugged off its white stigma, and has tended to hysteria about the obvious; namely, the destruction of the poor and the SMME landscape, and the effect of the current situation. Their relevance is thus limited. Thank goodness the EFF is, and always was, irrelevant. 

If there is a Phoenix to rise from the ashes, they should be trumpeting a revised policy framework of 4 or 5 key changes, and how this will benefit all. The void that the ANC has left while on its walk to oblivion is obvious and perhaps wishful. Who will step into this void as the ANC and the DA have lost the opportunity of turning their fortunes around. 

As to the court cases, smoking will likely be unbanned, and with that will go the last iota of credibility the ANC had. Then the DA’s case will be heard, and using a reasonable man scenario, oversight will be introduced into the DMA. 

The hunt is ON for a new political party, and no, Mashaba will not be it.

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