Sakeliga’s request for records of decision on lockdown regulations over the past two years is now being further delayed by an abuse of court rules by the legal team of the Minister of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The latest delaying tactic by the Minister is a notice of objection in terms the court rules that is not only irregular but also is not applicable at all in the circumstances.
This most recent irregular action follows another irregular notice of objection that was filed by the Minister in December last year (read more here), that has since been withdrawn when Sakeliga wanted to approach the court for an order to have that objection set aside so that the matter could proceed without delay.
Sakeliga submitted its request for records as long ago as 15 December 2020.
The court action to compel the Minister (who flatly refused to submit any records) to produce records was launched on 17 August 2021, following an internal appeal that was also refused by the Minister.
The Minister was more than 50 court days* late in filing her notice of opposition, and the Minister has now failed for more than 15 court days to file an answering affidavit.
The Minister’s legal team is now time and again filing irregular objections in order to delay the process even further.
Sakeliga now has no option but to file its own objection in respect of the Minister’s latest notice of opposition. Although the Minister’s irregular delaying tactics could have negative cost implications for her department (by implication, for the state coffers), Sakeliga is still bound by the court process within which irregular actions have to be processed and set aside.
Sakeliga believes the actions by the Minister in the course of more than a year to withhold her records of decision regarding lockdown regulations is a strong indication either that the records do not exist or that such records as do exist will confirm what is generally suspected – that most or all of the lockdown decisions are irrational and fraught with procedural irregularity.
Be that as it may, Sakeliga wants to make public and analyse these records of decision (in so far as they do exist) so they may be used in the public debate and possible legal action to limit the damage caused by lockdown decisions. The records may also help bringing an end to harmful policies and preventing future damage – for instance by repealing the state of disaster as a whole in the interest of a return to commercial and social normality. In this regard, Sakeliga also wrote to Minister Dlamini-Zuma on 12 January 2022, insisting on the repeal of the state of disaster and warning that further legal action will be taken if the state of disaster is not repealed now. Read more about this here.
* A “court day” is any day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday.
Legal and Liaison officer, Sakeliga