South Africa: Level 3 Regulations Clear As Mud Amid Ministerial Micromanagement

analysis

The Covid-19 lockdown Level 3 regulations seemed to shift the approach from lists of what's permitted - like short-sleeved T-shirts as undergarments - to expressly stipulating what's not allowed. It's an important shift, from control to collaboration. That's until the securocrat micromanagers got going at Thursday's ministerial briefing.

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel started talking of a "letter from employers for workers", as did Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Police Minister Bheki Cele followed suit.

Except no "letter from employer" exists in the Level 3 Covid-19 lockdown regulations. And a permit is required only for movement across provincial, district and metro boundaries, or declared coronavirus hotspots.

Following a request for clarification during Thursday's briefings, Cele responded by saying movement restrictions still applied under Regulation 33: "permit for workers falls under that".

Except it doesn't.

According to Regulation 33(1)(b), "any person may leave his or her place of residence... to travel to and from work". No word of a permit or letter.

A permit, not a letter, is only needed for travel for work across boundaries of provinces, metros or hotspots. Regulation 33(4)(a) stipulates a person crossing such boundaries must be "in possession of a permit issued by the employer that...

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