South Africa: The Lockdown Regulations Are Not a Ban On All Informal Food Traders


South Africa has gone into lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19. One of the very many concerns surrounding the impact of the lockdown relates to access to food.

The rules with respect to supermarkets, and our access to them during the lockdown, are reasonably clear. However, while supermarkets are key to South Africa's food system, there are other food outlets and distributors that are equally, if not more, important, particularly when it comes to the ability of people living in townships and informal settlements to access food.

One key question concerns the permissibility of food systems that operate as an alternative to supermarkets. This could refer to spaza shops and street traders but also box schemes and community-based home delivery mechanisms. Are they permitted to continue operating?

The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, issued regulations on 17 March 2020. These were amended on 25 March 2020, and again on 27 March 2020 ("the Lockdown Regulations"). The minister also issued directions to municipalities and provinces. The question is whether the rules are clear about what type of food trading is permitted.

The general business lockdown provisions

The first provision that must be examined is Regulation...

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