South African opposition sues government over Covid-19 lockdown

The party will also file court papers challenging the constitutionality of having no parliamentary oversight inscribed in the Disaster Management Act, local media reports said.
South African opposition political party, Democratic Alliance (DA) Chief Whip John Steenhuisen addresses the crowd at the DA party manifesto launch at The Rand Stadium in Johannesburg on February 23, 2019. (Photo by GULSHAN KHAN / AFP)

South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance has sued the government in two separate matters, challenging the validity of some aspects of the national lockdown, including the military-enforced night curfew, the ban on e-commerce and the restriction on exercise hours.

The country went into a strict nationwide lockdown on March 27 to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, which has infected at more than 12,000 people and killed at least 219.

The shutdown was slightly eased at the start of May, with citizens allowed to exercise outdoors for three hours in the morning and some businesses authorised to partially resume operations.

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“It is our opinion – and it is the view of many South Africans – that all three of these decisions should be immediately reversed, as there are no rational justifications for a military-enforced curfew, a restriction on e-commerce business and a limited three-hour window for exercise,” DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said on Thursday.

The party will also file court papers challenging the constitutionality of having no parliamentary oversight inscribed in the Disaster Management Act, local media reports said.

The economic costs of the lockdown have stoked disagreement between political parties and the opposition has grown increasingly critical of the president’s response to the outbreak.

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South Africa’s government is staggering the easing of confinement measures to try strike a balance between curbing the spread of COVID-19 and safeguarding livelihoods.

South Africa was already in recession before the coronavirus struck in March and the economy is now forecast to contract by more than six percent in 2020


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