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Furore over draft health regulations set to govern Covid-19 as state of disaster ends

Freedom Front Plus health spokesperson Philip van Staden said Minister of Health Joe Phaahla must attend an urgent meeting of the parliamentary portfolio committee on health to discuss the proposed regulations. Picture: Supplied

Freedom Front Plus health spokesperson Philip van Staden said Minister of Health Joe Phaahla must attend an urgent meeting of the parliamentary portfolio committee on health to discuss the proposed regulations. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 8, 2022

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Cape Town - Activists and some opposition political parties have rejected the idea of the replacement of the national state of disaster with temporary regulations which will be managed under the National Health Act.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that the state of disaster had been lifted and temporary regulations withdrawn was followed by the publishing of the draft health regulations for public comment.

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The period for public comment closes on April 16 and Ramaphosa said once the comments had been considered, the new regulations would be finalised and promulgated.

Leading the opponents of the changes is the campaigning non-profit platform, Dear South Africa where, by the time of writing, nearly 200 000 people had visited the website to comment on the new regulations.

Urging people to make their views known, Dear South Africa chairperson Rob Hutchinson said that the regulations leave the door open for other restrictions, labelled as advice-giving between different departments.

He said this advice can relate to curfew, national lockdown, economic activity and the sale of alcohol, among others, and will have a significant impact on every aspect of life.

“Let us not forget that Covid-19 did not wreck our economy. Covid-19 did not take your job away. Covid-19 did not prevent you from visiting your parents or children. The government did.

“They did so through regulations, the same regulations which are now being made permanent under the Health Act.”

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ACDP president Kenneth Meshoe said the new draft regulations were nothing more than vaccination mandates by stealth and opened the door for the continuation of the state of disaster.

He said the only difference was it was now under the health department instead of under the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs department.

He said he feared this would mean vaccination mandates being imposed in the workplace, and called the practice “tyrannical”.

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“Many South Africans, who are gainfully employed, are not being given a choice by some employers, they either must vaccinate or lose their job, which we believe is untenable and draconian.”

Freedom Front Plus health spokesperson Philip van Staden said his party had requested an urgent meeting of the parliamentary portfolio committee on health.

He said that Phaahla must attend to discuss the proposed regulations.

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“The management of a health crisis must be in line with science and, thus, goal-oriented. Any restriction or measure that has no apparent scientific basis is senseless and an abuse of power.”

Freedom of Religion South Africa (ForSA) director Michael Swain said he saw the continued regulation as the government acting beyond its legal authority.

“The state of disaster has ended precisely because Covid-19 is no longer seen as a severe threat to public health. The state can no longer show that it requires extraordinary powers to take exceptional measures to save lives.”

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