DA court bid against NGO food programme restrictions postponed

The Democratic Alliance's (DA) court bid to prevent the Department of Social Development from imposing new restrictions that would prevent Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) distributing hot meals to vulnerable people has been postponed. 

The DA announced on Tuesday 19 May that they would take the Department of Social Development to court over the "irrational and dangerous" regulations that appeared in a draft document distributed by the department. 

NGOs able to continue feeding programmes 

The party had previously lodged a complaint against the department with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) after they became aware of the draft document, and had claimed that the regulation would intensify hunger in impoverished communities. 

In a statement released on Friday 22 May, DA member of parliament James Lorimer said that in spite of the postponement to the court application, the court had ruled that the department would not be able to enforce the regulation. 

"The Western Cape High Court has postponed the Democratic Alliance (DA) challenge to Minister Lindiwe Zulu's attempt to regulate the distribution of food," he said. 

"In the meantime, though, it has ordered that government is not allowed to prevent people from exercising their existing rights to distribute and receive food." 

He added that the court had ordered department minister Lindiwe Zulu to bring the matter before a panel of her colleagues in the various provincial departments so as to undergo debate and scrutiny. 

"The court has ordered Minister Zulu to bring this to the attention of social development officials in her department and MECs in all of the provinces," he said. "The Commissioner of police has also been ordered to bring this order to the attention of all police officials."

"This means that for the next four weeks food distribution by NGOs can continue as normal before the matter finally comes to court."

Proposed measure is 'delusional' 

Lorimer said that Zulu had continued to defend the suggested measure despite rigorous opposition, and called her motivations "delusional". 

"Minister Zulu defended the regulations, saying relief needed to be coordinated," he said.  "This is clearly delusional as her department cannot even properly perform its current function, let alone instantly build a proper distribution network to millions of people."

The case will resume on the 19 June.