The business group Sakeliga has announced that it is approaching the High Court with a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to compel the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to disclose records justifying the decisions taken to declare and renew the state of disaster, to lockdown society and the economy, and to move South Africa between the respective lockdown levels.
Sakeliga is an independent business community with around 12,000 members. It is dedicated to fostering a conducive business environment by advocating for a free market and a sound constitutional order. Sakeliga has been one of the few business organisations that have consistently opposed South Africa’s lockdown policies since March 2020.
In its press release, Sakeliga commits to making available any records and documentation received to the public.
Sakeliga CEO Piet le Roux says that with the constantly-shifting goal posts of government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the public must be able to inspect the reasons for these shifts. The changing goalposts harm South Africa’s economy, social order, and constitutionalism. Le Roux further notes that it is clear that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent announcement that lockdown will continue until a greater number of South Africans have been vaccinated, is the latest example of these detrimental policy shifts, as the initial rationale for lockdown was simply that it sought to shield the public healthcare system from being overwhelmed — so-called “flattening of the curve.”
Sakeliga says it rejects Dlamini-Zuma’s refusal to hand over these records on the grounds that they are protected by Cabinet privilege. To Sakeliga, it cannot be that all records, regardless of their nature, are protected by privilege. The court, therefore, has to make a final decision, and hopefully compel the Minister to make available the documentary evidence and thinking that underlies government’s response to the pandemic.
Sakeliga’s court documents may be viewed here.