With just three days left for South Africans to comment on controversial draft health regulations indications are that the government will face multiple challenges to its plans to perpetuate executive rule after the lifting of the state of disaster, says Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) executive director Michael Swain.
In a press release yesterday FOR SA said they have been made aware that multiple emails from citizens containing their comments on the regulations have been deleted by the Department of Health without these emails and/or submissions being opened or read.
“We believe this is a fatal flaw in the whole process – you cannot ask for public comment and then go and delete comments when they come in and are perhaps not what you want, So we will definitely be challenging the process as a whole,” Swain told Gateway News in an interview.
FOR SA says it has written to the Minister of Health, not only to alert the department of “this severe breach of due process” but also to ask how the department will ensure that every deleted comment made by members of the public will be recovered and duly considered. Swain said they had not yet received a response from the minister.
Last chance to have your say
Meanwhile, he urged citizens to use the Dear South Africa website to make submissions on the regulations during the vital last few days for comments before Friday. An advantage of using the Dear SA platform is that it logs every email sent and every email that reaches the department of health – and it keeps a record of every submission. Every submission counts and will help to defend religious freedoms threatened by the regulations, said Swain.
He said public participation – both through email campaigns promoted by religious, political and civil society groups and through physical signed submissions being collected by organisations with extensive grassroots reach – is going to be substantial. A massive “NO” vote from the public will provide a strong foundation for mounting a legal challenge should the government try to push the regulations through.
Swain said he also expects that pressure will be applied on the government through a report from the CRL Rights Commission. FOR SA recently asked the commission to intervene in the substantial conflict between the government and the religious sector as a whole over the regulations. He said the government will not be able to simply ignore a report from the CRL Commission which is a chapter nine organisation whose mandate includes promoting and protecting the religious sector.
Pressure is also being applied on the street by the ACDP which, according to a post on its Facebook page, is hosting several public protests aimed at defending religious freedom. Today — at the time of publishing this report — the ACDP is marching from Beyers Naude Square in Johannesburg to the Constitutional Court where a memorandum will be handed to the Minister of Justice. At 10am tomorrow (Thursday April 14) they will protest in front of Parliament in Cape Town to defend the right of churches to meet without a number of restrictions or need to produce vaccine certificate or proof of recent Covid-free test results. And on Freedom Day, on April 27, when they will meet at Beyers Naude Square and march to the Constitutional Court to defend religious freedoms and hand a memorandum to the Minister of Justice.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to stay up to date with God stories of Africa and beyond
DONATE — Click on the link to donate and help us to keep on publishing uplifting news that glorifies God and strengthens His people. Thank you for your support.
You are welcome to engage with our articles by making comments [in the Comments area below] that add value to a topic or to engage in thoughtful, constructive discussion with fellow readers. Comments that contain vulgar language will be removed. Hostile, demeaning, disrespectful, propagandistic comments may also be moved. This is a Christian website and if you wish to vent against Christian beliefs you have probably come to the wrong place and your comments may be removed. Ongoing debates and repetitiveness will not be tolerated. You will also disqualify yourself from commenting if you engage in trolling.