Helen Zille slams 'authoritarian' lockdown: 'A curfew is military rule'

05 May 2020 - 16:55 By Aphiwe Deklerk
DA heavyweight Helen Zille has slammed the government's 'authoritarian' tendencies during the lockdown.
DA heavyweight Helen Zille has slammed the government's 'authoritarian' tendencies during the lockdown.

DA federal council chair Helen Zille has slammed the government’s level 4 lockdown regulations, saying they were about “control” and “authoritarianism”.

Zille was speaking to party leader John Steenhuisen during his “Coronacast” live discussion on Tuesday.

She slammed the regulations, which include a curfew and limited time allowed for South Africans to exercise outside their homes. Zille referred to the three hours provided for exercise as an “absurdity”.

“Even with masks ... it’s hard to cram everyone into that time. Now why are they doing that? Well, they say so the police can cope with that,” she said.

“Why do they have a curfew? Now a curfew is when you have a war — it’s military rule. Why a curfew? Again, so that the police can cope.

“Well, you know, the point of this lockdown isn’t so the police can cope. The point of this lockdown is to manage transmissions to what the health-care [sector] can cope with.”

Zille said the government does not seem to “get it”.

“This is about control, that’s what it is — and about authoritarianism,” she said.

Zille earlier criticised the Disaster Management Act, which allowed for the creation of the national coronavirus command council. She said it was an insidious act because it could concentrate all power in the hands of the executive.

“We don’t even know who is on this command council that Cyril Ramaphosa keeps talking about. We don’t even know who is there and who is taking these decisions,” she said.

“For all we know, it might be [tourism minister Mmamoloko] Kubayi-Ngubane and it might well be [police minister] Bheki Cele and it might be [social development minister] Lindiwe Zulu. All of these people who keep trumping Cyril Ramaphosa and trumping [health minister Zweli] Mkhize.”

She said it was not even known who was taking decisions during this period.

“We have to be very, very careful because once you give people who are inclined to abuse power real authoritarian power, they don’t give it up very easily. That’s why Bheki Cele says, ‘If you don’t listen to us, we will go back to level 5’. Oh, really, on what basis?”

Zille's views were supported by Steenhuisen, who said she often shared with him that “power doesn’t make you — it reveals who are”.

“I think that we are starting to see the real face of the people that we regard as leaders in South Africa,” he said.