Sakeliga says Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in contempt of court over Covid-19 state of disaster documents

Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 11, 2023


Pretoria - The deadline for the government to disclose the true reasons behind the Covid-19 lockdown regulations was not honoured - a move which could see Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma back in court to explain why she should not be held in contempt.

This is according to public interest body, Sakeliga, which said the minister was in contempt of a court order instructing her to submit records concerning her 2020 state of disaster decisions.

Sakeliga has now started a process to have the minister declared guilty of contempt of court.

In terms of an order obtained by Sakeliga in November, Dlamini Zuma should have, by December 22, submitted to it a variety of records she had relied on when declaring the national state of disaster in March 2020, and subsequently extending it several times.

“This she has not done. Instead of doing so, the State Attorney – on Dlamini Zuma’s instruction – submitted records concerning isolated decisions that are already available in the public domain,” Piet le Roux, CEO of Sakeliga said.

The organisation extended the deadline to January 6, for the documents to be submitted. The deadline, however, came and went without Sakeliga receiving the documents it had asked for, Le Roux said.

“Reacting to the extended due date, the State Attorney delivered to the offices of our attorneys boxes of files – approximately 3 800 pages – consisting exclusively of documents for public participation and research documents relating to the April 2020 ban on the sale and distribution of tobacco.

“According to Le Roux, the pages have been directly copied from court files from an action at the time concerning the ban on tobacco, in which the minister was a respondent.

No minutes of meetings, interdepartmental correspondence and draft regulations have been submitted.

Sakeliga has now asked the state attorney to produce by today (Jan 11), a satisfactory explanation regarding Dlamini Zuma’s failure to submit the records.

This step forms part of a thorough process that has to be followed to get a person declared guilty of contempt of court. The next step is likely to be a court application, Le Roux explained.

“While it is already clear that Dlamini Zuma is attempting to thwart Sakeliga and the court, it is a procedural requirement that her contempt should be proven in a further court application. In this way the minister can be compelled either to disclose the records or to face imprisonment.”

While Dlamini-Zuma took her decisions largely or completely with the support of President Cyril Ramaphosa and while he mostly did the late-night announcements, Dlamini Zuma is the focus of this application because she as Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs was legally responsible for the decisions.

Le Roux said the information granted to Sakeliga by the court will shed light on the reasons for the decisions made by Dlamini Zuma and the government during the state of disaster.

The request includes a request for all records on which the minister relied when she declared the national state of disaster in March 2020, for each time that she extended it, and for each of the regulations she published during that time.

Pretoria News