The Democratic Alliance (DA) says a Constitutional Court judgment, dismissing the party’s application for direct access to the court in order to contest the constitutionality of certain aspects of the Disaster Management Act, won’t stop it from seeing its mission through.

In a statement, the DA says it will move slowly through the court system in order to contest an issue which it says has clear and urgent constitutional implications. 

“It is our view that, in its current guise, the Disaster Management Act, under which a State of Disaster was declared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, does not pass constitutional muster. The reason for this is that it has no provision for parliamentary oversight and this means that the legislative and executive functions of the state have effectively been merged. Government’s National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) now fulfils both these roles,” says the DA.

The party says this has empowered Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister (COGTA) Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to issue directives with no parliamentary oversight. These directives, the party says, include extending the State of Disaster indefinitely.

“The President has asked South Africans to give up many of their rights for the fight against COVID-19 and they have so. But this has enabled the COGTA Minister to concentrate huge power in her own hands, while circumventing the legislative branch of government entirely,” says the DA.

The DA says the reason it applied for direct access to the Constitutional Court was to “urgently remedy this flaw”.

In its court papers, the Presidency had asked for the request to be dismissed, arguing that the party had overlooked the fact that Parliament’s rules had ample provisions to scrutinise the lockdown laws.

The DA’s bid is among a string of challenges against the lockdown regulations.

On Friday, the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) lost its legal challenge to have cigarettes declared essential.