The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel for gazetting a winter clothing list “which seems to have been plucked from Alice in Wonderland.”
In a statement released by MP Dean MacPherson on Wednesday, the party said it was “stunned by the bizarre and extraordinary clothing list.”
Patel gazetted the directions on the sale of winter clothing, footwear and bedding during level 4 lockdown on Tuesday following consultations industry leaders.
Regulations ‘akin to 1980s Soviet Union’
Some of the restrictions that have caught the eye of observers include buying shirts as long as they are promoted as “to be worn under jacket coats and/or knitwear; buying crop bottoms as long as they are worn with boots and leggings; and buying closed-toe shoes.
MacPherson labelled these restrictions as “ridiculous and laughable,” adding, “These new clothing regulations are frankly mad and seem more at place during the 1980s under the Soviet Union than they do in a democracy like South Africa.
“There is simply no justification for the Minister to be determining what clothes people can buy and worse, how they should wear them.”
He said the regulations reflect the African National Congress (ANC) government and Patel’s “continued paternal obsession” with dictating to South Africans what they can and cannot do.
‘Sack Patel without delay’
“It may be acceptable in a communist state, but not in a free country like ours. The DA believes that people should be able to buy whatever they want, as long as it is done in a safe way with health protocols. There is no rationale for a clothing list,” MacPherson continued.
He accused Patel of “running amok” and choosing winners and losers in the economy “without any restraint from President Ramaphosa.”
MacPherson said, “The President should now step up to the plate and sack Patel without delay. He has been a deadweight on this government during this crisis, lurching from one crisis to another and should finally be put out to pasture before he wrecks any further damage on our economy.”
Patel was involved in a similarly controversial decision in April when he announced that the sale of hot cooked food was not allowed during level 5 lockdown.
In a media interview at the time, he reiterated that the ban was 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.
The DA was planning to challenge the Minister’s decision in court, but the matter became moot when the sale of hot cooked food was permitted under level 4 lockdown which started on 1 May.