Lawyers mull action on powers of Covid-19 National Command Council
Lawyer Luqmaan Hassan, who addressed the letter on behalf of advocates Nazeer Cassim SC and Erin Richardson, yesterday told the Pretoria News the president responded to the letter this week.
“We are busy with our legal team to consider the content of the response, and we are having a meeting later to decide the way forward.
“This will be whether we should approach the court or whether his response is sufficient, or whether we must further engage with him,” Hassan said.
The concerned legal minds questioned the legality of the command council, which under the State of Disaster and during lockdown, is ruling the life of every South African.
They said, among others, the command council “appears to us to constitute a centralisation of power that is impermissible under the Disaster Management Act”.
In questioning the establishment and set-up of the command council, they said: “The problem is that the NCC only consists of 19 ministers; where are the remaining ministers?”
They said in the circumstances, they wanted clarification regarding the basis for the establishment of the command centre as well as the extent of its powers.
The advocates said it was a difficult and frustrating task to find information pertaining to the structure, and citizens could not exercise their rights when they did not have access to this information.
They said it appeared from the government’s official news portals that the structure comprised 19 ministers and it was not just an advisory body, but had significant decision-making powers.
It was said in their letter that it appeared that the command council was exercising at least two forms of power - statutory regulations - making powers and executive powers.
“We see no lawful basis for the structure to interfere in the making of regulations, nor do we see any lawful basis for the body to exercise any other statutory regulation-powers under the act,” they said.