Trade minister Ebrahim Patel under fire for cooked-food ban during lockdown

20 April 2020 - 12:15 By Zingisa Mvumvu
A ban on cooked food has come under scrutiny.
A ban on cooked food has come under scrutiny.
Image: /Lee Thompson

The DA has given minister of trade and industry Ebrahim Patel until 2pm on Monday to explain which lockdown regulation he relied upon to declare the sale of cooked food as prohibited during the lockdown.

The official opposition's shadow minister of trade and industry, Dean Macpherson, has threatened legal action should Patel fail to explain his pronouncements, which the party said were “absurd, invalid, illogical and ill-considered”. 

Patel pronounced the ban on the sale of cooked food last week after the announcement of the amended regulations.

However, this appears to contradict the regulations which classify “any food products” as essential goods.

Advocate Vuyani Ngalwana agrees with the DA that Patel might have got it wrong by banning the sale of cooked food.

Ngalwana tweeted: “I repeat, Regulation 11b(c) and (d) read with annexure B paragraph A(1)(i) in the latest consolidated regulations makes clear that 'any food products' are 'essential goods'. There is no regulation that I have seen which excludes sale of cooked food.”

The DA's Macpherson concurred: “There is nothing that prohibits the production or sale of cooked food and thus the DA believes that the minister has overstepped his powers by simply pronouncing that retailers may not sell cooked or prepared food.”

Macpherson said the party was seeking legal opinion on how to proceed with the matter. It wrote to Patel on Saturday asking him to explain himself, giving him until Sunday to respond, but the minister had requested an extension, said Macpherson on Monday morning.

“This absurd determination by minister Patel is illogical and ill-considered,” said Macpherson. “The latest pronouncement by the government will have detrimental consequences for front-line health-care workers, members of the security services, essential service workers and transport workers like truck drivers who rely on cooked food because of the work they are doing.

“This will also be particularly devastating for the elderly, who may be too frail to cook.”