Fikile Mbalula responds to ATM laying charges against him
Johannesburg - Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has accused the African Transformation Movement (ATM) political party of scoring cheap political points as the party opened a case against him on Tuesday, for allegedly breaking Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
The ATM had on Tuesday opened a case against Mbalula at the Johannesburg Central Police Station, accusing him of acting against the lockdown regulations when he addressed a large gathering at the Noord Taxi Rank in Joburg.
ATM Gauteng deputy chairperson said Mbalula had on April 1 addressed about 300 people at the taxi rank.
However, in a statement released on Tuesday evening, Mbalula said when he went to the taxi rank he found an unfortunate “situation where the number of people at the taxi rank left a lot to be desired.”
“It is rather unfortunate that the ATM chose to use the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic to score cheap political points for their 15 minutes of fame,” he said.
Mbalula said he had gone to the taxi rank, in his capacity as the minister, to monitor the level of compliance to the lockdown regulations and directions and “to emphatically communicate the message.”
He said on realising that there were too many people, he used a loud hailer to address people without them getting out of the taxis they were already in.
“As a Minister of Transport, I am duty bound to ensure that the government message is disseminated by all means possible and enforce the rule of law.
“We take exception to any suggestion by ATM that we broke the regulations, when addressing unbecoming conduct that undermines the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and communicating our directions.
“The antics employed by the ATM to find relevance are at best attention seeking and at worst deplorable,” he said.
Moloi said ATM had laid the charges because Mbalula had not led by example.
“The multitudes of people were standing shoulder to shoulder violating physical distancing and putting their lives at risk whilst listening to the minister.
“Even more concerning was that the minister himself for a considerable part of his address, together with some of the government officials, also set a bad example by violating physical distancing in full view of millions of television viewers,” said Moloi.
Moloi said the regulations, which were meant to prevent the spread of coronavirus, did not exempt ministers who were communicating about Covid-19. Moloi also called on Ramaphosa to act decisively against Mbalula.
“If churches are not allowed to congregate their members, there's no reason for the Minister to break the law in the manner he did.