DearSA notches up another victory after “Free Exercise” campaign
Civil society group DearSA has claimed another victory after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that from 1 June 2020, South Africans were free to exercise at any time of day, provided they were not in groups.
On Sunday, Ramaphosa announced a move from Alert Level 4 to 3, which allows many more businesses to recommence operations, and greater freedom pf movement. Limited alcohol sales will also be allowed, but not cigarettes. Also announced was that Grade 7 and 12 children will be able to return to school from 1 June 2020.
This is the third campaign victory for DearSA: the first two being the limited right to exercise (during a three hour window), and the lifting of the ban on e-commerce.
DearSA ‘s founder Rob Hutchinson says this is a victory for participative democracy, as DearSA provides a platform for South Africans to make their voices heard at the highest levels of government.
“We received tens of thousands of responses to our various campaigns, and we passed these on to government. We do not run petitions and we are agnostic in the way we solicit participation, no matter how contentious. Our job is not to take a position on these campaigns, merely to collate and pass on the views of ordinary citizens. But it was quite clear from the responses received to these campaigns, that people want to be able to exercise, shop online and send their children back to school.”
DearSA had written to government requesting a relaxation of the restrictions on exercising, arguing that there was little danger of the Covid-19 virus being transmitted provided social distancing is maintained. The organisation says it is delighted that government has responded positively to the opinions of ordinary citizens.
The return of Grade 7 and 12 children to school is part of a phased reopening of schools, which will likely be expanded in the coming weeks to allow other grades to recommence their studies.
DearSA’s campaign calling for the lifting of the ban on e-commerce was actioned by Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel on 14 May 2020 when he gazette new regulations allowing for all e-commerce transactions to take place, with the exception of restricted goods – notably cigarettes and alcohol. This was after a letter was sent to the minister requesting he lift the ban, reflecting the wishes of the overwhelming majority of respondents to the DearSA campaign.
Daniel Eloff of attorneys Hurter Spies, which is representing DearSA, said it is becoming abundantly clear that South Africans are becoming frustrated at the needless harm that is being done to the economy and small businesses by the extension of the lockdown to e-commerce platforms, the relaxation of which cannot possibly help in curbing the spread of the virus.
The lifting of the e-commerce ban has had a huge impact on the small business sector, which can now sell online and generate some revenue.
DearSA says the right to exercise at any time is an important concession as it will free many people from cramped conditions and allow a semblance of normality to return to their lives.
DearSA will continue to engage with ordinary South Africans and make sure their voices are heard by government. Several more campaigns will be announced in the coming days, as it is vital that the economy be allowed to recover from the devastation of the lockdown, while taking care to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Rob Hutchinson, MD of DearSA
Link to the campaigns: https://dearsouthafrica.co.za/unlockdown
Dear South Africa (DearSA) is a non-partisan South African non-profit organisation which facilitates public participation in all government administrative processes, applications, policy formation, amendments and tariff structuring.
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