The South African Liquor Brandowners Association (Salba) is concerned that the government’s lifting of its State of Disaster, and alternative proposal to handle the pandemic through the regulations under the National Health Act of 2003, will introduce extraordinary measures taken under the State of Disaster into the day-to-day legal framework.
“The draft regulations attempt to replace the extraordinary regulations imposed by the State of Disaster with legislation that is not applicable or appropriate to the ordinary day-to-day life in a post-pandemic world,” says Salba CEO Kurt Moore.
He notes that the regulations would afford one Minister the right to limit the rights and freedoms of South African citizens and corporates without the full oversight of Parliament and further consultation with citizens, thereby granting Health Minister Joe Phaahla overreaching powers not envisaged in the National Health Act.
As such, Salba made a formal submission to Phaahla on the regulations that are currently open for public consultation.
Moore explains that there is no reason given for the regulations to include the sale, dispensing and consumption of alcohol as information that Phaahla may share with his Cabinet colleagues for purposes of disease control.
Salba points out that the regulation of the sale of alcohol to consumers is a provincial competency that was suspended only under the National Disaster Act, and Salba believes any interference in this area by Phaahla, or any member of the Cabinet, would be unconstitutional.
Salba states that the proposed regulations formulated at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic were not based on solid science, and although intended to cater to all notifiable diseases, they were drafted using outdated science and may not apply to the next pandemic.
A collective of scientists – Marc Mendelson, Shabir Madhi, Jeremy Nel, Glenda Gray, Regina Osih and Francois Venter – contended that the draft regulations were “inconsistent, incoherent, and illogical . . . firmly rooted in 2020 when knowledge about Covid-19 was more rudimentary”.
The scientists collectively stated, “[the regulations are] not conducive for economic recovery and inappropriate to continue pursuing policies and imposing regulations aimed to prevent Sars-Cov-2 infections, as opposed to primarily focusing on enhancing population immunity through vaccination to prevent severe disease and death from Covid-19”.
At the time, Salba expressed deep concern that the amendments would hold back the economic recovery and stifle growth.