Lifting the ban on the sale of cooked hot food would be “kissing the lockdown goodbye,” Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has said.
Dlamini-Zuma was speaking during a virtual briefing with Parliament’s portfolio committee on COGTA on Tuesday.
She said lifting the ban would cause more people to leave their homes to buy fast food, thereby undermining the very purpose of the lockdown.
‘Nothing to do with punishing anyone’
“It’s got nothing to do with punishing anyone, but all to do with protecting,” Dlamini-Zuma explained, adding that it would be unfair for hot-food counters in retail stores to remain open while fast-food outlets are closed.
She said, “If we open up the sale of [hot] food, we must open it up everywhere. We can’t only say we should open it up for this shop and that shop but umam’ othengisa amagwinya [a woman selling fat cakes] somewhere cannot do it. It either happens across the board or it doesn’t happen.”
Dlamini-Zuma formally gazetted the controversial ban on Monday as the Democratic Alliance (DA) contemplated a legal challenge against Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel.
Last week, Patel caused confusion when he stated that the sale of cooked hot food in retail stores such as Woolworths was unlawful under the State of National Disaster regulations at the time.
‘Vectors of transmission’
The DA however said nothing in the regulations prohibited such sales, adding that Monday’s gazette notice had saved Patel from legal action.
In an interview with Radio 702‘s Eusebius McKaiser on Tuesday, Patel reiterated that the ban is meant to keep people in their homes.
“Across the country, we have enormous numbers of places selling hot foods and this would create huge numbers of people moving out of bounds to get hot foods and those are vectors of transmission,” he said.
However, the DA gave Patel a deadline of midday on Tuesday to furnish the party with reasons for the ban so it could decide on another legal challenge.
DA MP Dean MacPherson later revealed on Twitter that the Minister’s office had asked for an extension of the deadline until 17h00 on Tuesday.
He wrote, “One would think [the rationality] already exists after they published the amendment yesterday. Clearly not. No doubt one is quickly being drawn up.”
In another tweet, MacPherson added that the success of the lockdown should not be reduced to the sale of hot food.