The lockdown has delivered enough ministerial idiocy to last us a lifetime. It has unearthed an embarrassing lack of understanding of economics and its interplay with society. It’s not the lack of experience that is problematic so much as the complete lack of knowledge and understanding.

Leading the charge is the ironically named Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel. Patel made his ‘name’ on three issues: banning online business, identifying items of clothing that could or couldn’t be sold, and banning cooked chicken.

Patel demonstrated that he doesn’t understand either trade or industry. He was a trade union leader who oversaw the decimation of our textile industry in the face of Chinese imports.

Patel banned online business, not because it had anything to do with preparing for dealing with the pandemic, but because allowing ‘unfettered e-commerce’ would be unfair to traders such as spaza shops. E-commerce could only sell what was allowed to be sold at brick-and-mortar shops.

Patel doesn’t understand that it’s irrelevant what people sell and that online is a particularly safe way to shop. It is an industry that employs large numbers of people.

It probably also didn’t occur to him that the markets that use e-commerce are not in competition with those that use spaza shops. But, quite apart from that, the pandemic regulations are not meant to deal with ‘uncompetitive’ behaviour.

Financial Mail editor Rob Rose describes Patel’s lockdown efforts thus: ‘He, along with the tobacco terminator, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has copped most of the flak for lockdown regulations that were at best irrational, at worst loony-tunes.’

In mid-May Patel published directions for what clothing could be sold during the level-4 lockdown; the list, Rose said, ‘looked like it had been designed as part of an elaborate Monty Python skit.’

The lunacy was up by the inclusion on the list of ‘crop bottoms’ — but only when ‘worn with boots and leggings’.

And Zapiro described the madness well.

‘Soviet fantasy mode’

The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Geordin Hill-Lewis said Patel was in ‘full-on Soviet fantasy mode — next he’ll bring back the Lada’. The party’s Ghaleb Cachalia called the regulations ‘the dumbest … ever published’.

Patel said in an affidavit in response to a court application that the ‘winter clothing’ rules were not an ‘attempt by ministers to micro-manage decisions best taken by businesses but, on the contrary, a response to the request by stakeholders for greater clarity and certainty’.

‘I had no intention of publishing the clothing directions — I had assumed at that stage that industry bodies would, as other industry bodies had, self-regulate by imposing their own internal standards.’

Retail CEOs, however, were worried that store managers would be arrested for breaking the rules on what could be sold, which had happened early in the lockdown. Hence the requests to provide clarity on what could be sold as ‘winter clothes’.

Patel should not have stipulated ‘winter’ clothes over any other clothes. What’s winter in Cape Town is not winter in Hoedspruit. Putting retailers in the position of begging him for clarity speaks to a Soviet fantasy.

In late April, the sale of roast chicken and precooked food was banned. Patel said that government’s position on selling hot prepared food was always ‘very clear’.

Corporate bravery at its finest

Woolworths agreed to follow the regulations despite receiving a legal opinion from attorneys Webber Wentzel that in terms of the previous regulations, Woolworths could continue selling ’any item that can be consumed by a human being… it does not matter whether the item is raw, processed, frozen or cooked; nor does it matter whether it is healthy or unhealthy; nor does it matter whether it is luxury or not. Whatever the item is, it can be sold to consumers’. Corporate bravery at its finest.

Next is the class act that is Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu. Recently Zulu said publicly that she hadn’t realised how badly the pandemic had affected poor people. However this hasn’t stopped her.

Zulu’s initial regulations aimed at centralising the distribution of food aid. All charities and other good souls who sought to provide food to thousands of people could not do so as Zulu sought to centralise distribution through her department. These regulations were struck down in court.

Then, notwithstanding the revelation of her new-found insight into the lives of the poor, she enacted new regulations which have been struck down again on application by the DA. These regulations sought to set up a complicated system of planning and reporting to be complied with by all NGOs and food relief charities before providing food relief.

This, of course, would block food relief, as organisations became mired in bureaucratic processes, which is what happened the first time round.

James Lorimer, member of the DA shadow cabinet, says it’s most likely that she wants to control food distribution so that she can exchange food for promises of political loyalty. He says Zulu should be disqualified from public office. ‘If President Ramaphosa had an iota of conscience, he would fire her from his cabinet immediately.’

Then, last but not least, is Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane. During a National Assembly plenary session on 23 June, she said her department would provide a platform for the online promotion of products by small and medium tourism enterprises to sell clothing, handcraft and art.

Rack and ruin

As DA shadow minister Manny de Freitas says, the industry offers services and products that are about an experience. ‘Tourists purchase arts, crafts and souvenirs as a memento of their experience’ only. More logical would be to promote the websites from which these tourism enterprises operate. ‘The online selling of souvenirs is not in the ambit of tourism. Moreover, there are numerous government-sponsored tourism websites which have been left to wreck (sic) and ruin due to the government’s lack of maintenance, upgrades and lack of political will.

‘… Tourism’s job is to get people away from their computers and to get them to tour and visit South Africa. The Minister simply doesn’t understand this. It is no wonder that tourism enterprises are crashing and burning while thousands continue to lose their jobs thanks to tourism not opening up because of government’s lockdown regulations.’

The Minister’s earlier regulations to provide relief on the basis of whether an applicant was B-BBEE compliant were, extraordinarily, upheld by a court. The IRR’s Dr Anthea Jeffery, in an analysis of a similar case, is of the view that this is effectively rewriting both the Disaster Management Act of 2002 and the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act of 2003 – neither of which authorises the use of race as a criterion in the allocation of disaster relief.

Anyway, the fact that Kubayi-Ngubane hasn’t realised that the people most likely to be affected by this race-obsessed approach are black employees makes her unworthy of her position.

Behind all this is that President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed these ministers to his cabinet and, in the case of the first two, reappointed them. The failure to end their tenure says more about him than it does about them.

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26 COMMENTS

  1. People need to know that debating for hours and hours to reach some kind of consensus is always the preferred African way. Add to this decision-making method the fact that African societies are clan-based, and the rsult is a Cabinet lkike the one Cyril is, in theory, running.

    If a camel is the result of a committee decision to design a horse, you get the picture. This also explains the rise of the Big Man in Africa — for at least a little while his ilk are the only types who get anything done. Ancient Greek history gives a clue as well. Greek Tyrants always began as heroes.
    The only things we can still rely on are the judiciary, freedom of speech and private enterprise– State educastion for the masses is a lost cause; the civil service is becoming an aristocracy; the police force is thoroughly white-anted; the nation’s infrastructure is wobbling; the State airline is to all inrents and purposes a dead duck. A last resort would be prayer.

    • Yes agree with everything except the reliance on judiciary. Unfortunately also relegated to SOE level. Judgements of the courts are more and more about being politically correct

      • John it is worse than that, they are unfortunately just another arm of the control grid over the sheeple, solely there for control and safeguarding the system aka governments and others hidden behind the curtain for most. If they where not then why deny the sheeple here “Common Law” which is in our so call “Constipation” [yeah you read it correctly], it is not a “Constitution” as it means nothing to them as being proven by their verdicts in many instances.

      • Dan it is obvious that the ones that elected them are all a bit ‘slow’ or like Bernard comments – morons
        “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.” – George Orwell

  2. Either Ramaphosa is choosing these people because they really are his first choice or he is doing so because it is necessary to appease certain factions to maintain his presidency. No-one really knows which. It is however easy to find numerous examples in Western governments where such compromises were necessary to maintain a coalition.

      • No it was onse Jan van Riebeeck that made him do this.

        Most of the people miss the real reason behind the “Plandemic/Scandemic” perpetrated on the sheeple of the world. Our government and most of big business are following the scrip laid out for them to do. They are all puppets in the hands of the real danger to humanity. If this is not clear to the people by now then I feel really sorry for us, then they will believe and allow anything that is going to be forced upon them by these entities without a second thought and will accept what is coming with gladness. [all under the guise that it is for their protection]

        There is so much proof world wide that this was not natural and and finely orchestrated plan to curb the rights of the sheeple and force their draconian rules and regulations under the banner of “Laws” [in actual fact only statutes] onto the sheeple to adhere to and if they don’t, they will be ostracised from the community/herd of sheeple.

        This was planned long ago and brought into being at this time because too many in the herd is waking up and seeing the bigger picture, so they could not allow this to continue because they were loosing grip over the situation world wide and deemed it is time now to act out their plan or else all could be lost to them.

        You may ask what is the “Plan” and rightly so. The plan is the total domination over humanity by a certain group of individuals, some calls them the “Oligarchs/Illuminati” and what they are planning is not very nice. All laid out on the “Georgia guide stones” in the USA, google it please if you are not aware of it.

  3. Will we ever get a government that looks after the good of ALL its people? First the Broeder/Nationalists gang and now the pathetic Bee clowns. This country has so much to offer but we struggle to get a well-balanced leadership that governs without prejudice.
    Maybe we should hire internationally educated, impartial professionals?

    • MJ no you will never get a “Government” that looks after it’s sheeple while they the sheeple slumber and sleep and needs to be governed, because they the sheeple mainly are either not able/capable or just to stupid and unable to think for themselves. While they are prepared to take the abuse and give their silent consent, nothing will change on Mother Earth for them.

      • What I forgot to mention is that this was a test run to see how much control we would accept and it was a sounding victory to them. The more ludicrous the demand on our freedoms, the more proof they had as to with how much control they will get away and big business played their part well in denying us our rights as people.

        They have us pegged and they know now that under the guise of “Law” they can get away with almost anything they want. The next fase will be chips, immunisation [Bill Gates so called CV vaccine] no more cash by the end of the year, that much a high employer of Capitec admitted to a friend of mine this week and all else that grabs their fancy. Welcome to the Brave New World.

    • James to us it appears to be bonkers, that is how well the real plan is hidden from us but it is not, it is a extremely well worked out and applied plan by the puppets that are being well remunerated by the controllers.

  4. I roll my eyes whenever I read, ‘the government should do this’ or ‘ the Minister should do that’. You will be disappointed if you expect better and you will be disappointed if you expect worse. Because what you will get is more likely worser.

  5. We do not have a government! We have a bunch of idiots in positions that they should never have been! Unfortunately most of the SA population vote for these clowns because they are black and make promises (T-shirts and food parcels are favorites) before each election that these voters just love to hear!How stupid can you be????

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