Cape Town – Retired chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has slammed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration over its handling of Covid-19, as he questioned the constitutionality of the decisions taken to curb the pandemic.
Mogoeng was delivering a keynote address at a virtual conference of the Forum for Institutions Supporting Democracy, chaired by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
The conference explored the interplay between Covid-19 and corruption, and the impact thereof on human rights.
“Has there been corruption actual or perceived, if so, what has the effect of all these been on our constitutional democracy.
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“Are the people governing under the constitution during the Covid-19 era or is the executive and a command council governing in terms of the Disaster Management Act? Do we have a forum for citizens to consider issues relating to Covid-19 openly? Is the National Assembly scrutinising Covid-19 related issues in public?,” Mogoeng asked.
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He continued; “Why have we allowed a structure that is neither constitutional nor statutory, a command council, and a minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the President to interfere with our entrenched fundamental rights in this manner?.
“Why are we as citizens not insisting on accountability and openness by elected representatives of the people and on public debates on covid-19 related issues in the National Assembly.”
According to Herald LIVE, Mogoeng said the government ought to have consulted, through public debates and at the National Assembly, before limiting people’s rights through different levels of lockdowns.
Ramaphosa placed South Africa on its first lockdown for 21 days from March 26 to April 16, 2020. This was during the height of the Covid-19 infections.
The decision was taken through the advice of scientists in the national coronavirus command council and the cabinet.
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Since then, Ramaphosa has continued to place the country under various lockdown levels, as he responds to developments in the infection rate.
But Mogoeng believed this was wrong and did not meet the minimum constitutional requirements.
“Why have we allowed a structure that is neither constitutional nor statutory — a command council, a minister of Cogta and the president — to interfere with our entrenched fundamental rights in this manner and to extend lockdown as easily as they do and in circumstances where more accountability would have been experienced if the National Assembly was allowed to enjoy its constitutional rights,” Times Live quoted Mogoeng as saying.
Mogoeng also said that it was important for people to ask questions around vaccines.
“Reports that some of the vaccines have led to the death of the people were true or false. Or have we all been beaten into submission by the fear of being routinely demonised, investigated or lied about?. Are we all afraid of the ever ready and shameless propaganda or smear campaign machinery?,” Mogoeng asked.
Last year, the former Chief Justice made headlines when he referred to the vaccinations as the devil’s vaccine.
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Compiled by Reginald Nhlapo