Democratic Alliance's interim leader, John Steenhuisen. Picture: VELI NHLAPO
Democratic Alliance's interim leader, John Steenhuisen. Picture: VELI NHLAPO

South Africans will have to wait longer to know whether the legislation used to impose the lockdown is constitutional, after the Constitutional Court refused to grant the DA direct access to challenge it.

On Wednesday, the top court dismissed the DA’s application for direct access to the court, saying it was not “in the interests of justice” to hear it at this stage.

It now means that the DA, which has already lodged an application at the high court in this matter, will have to follow the standard route of first having the case heard in the high court.

The Disaster Management Act is the framework used to impose SA’s national lockdown under a state of disaster, which has been in place since March to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The opposition party brought the challenge to section 27 of the Disaster Management Act on the basis that it breached the separation of powers, among other issues.

It argued that the act was unconstitutionally delegating the legislature’s powers to the executive, that it was permitting something similar to a state of emergency without the same checks and balances being in place and that the act did not provide for oversight by parliament.

Helen Zille, chair of the DA’s federal council said the order dismissing the DA’s application was “very disappointing” as the party believed it was a very urgent matter.  

DA leader John Steenhuisen said the party would now move to get a date for the matter in the high court as soon as possible, but that the merits of the case remained the same.

“We’ll continue the fight as its an important fight to have,” Steenhuisen said.

He added that it was a pity as the case would, either way, be  likely to end up in the Constitutional Court.

The Freedom Front Plus has also brought a challenge to the constitutionality of the Disaster Management Act in the high court. Judgment has been reserved in that matter.

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