DA supports restaurant owners’ right to protest
22 July 2020
The Democratic Alliance (DA) supports the right of restaurant owners and staff to protest irrational and damaging Covid-19 regulations that endanger their livelihoods, in a manner that complies with health and safety regulations.
The Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) is planning a peaceful protest for later today where owners will place their empty tables and chairs in front of their restaurants to demonstrate the financial impact of the extended Covid-19 lockdown and the restrictive regulations pertaining to the industry.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) have warned RASA that the protest might infringe on Disaster Management Act (DMA) regulation 37(1)(l) which states that conduct on business premises should form part of the legitimate business and is thus not protected.
It is disconcerting that SAPS seems to be trying to stifle people’s right to protest as protected by the Constitution. While this is certainly extraordinary circumstances, and the Covid-19 regulations have put restrictions on movements, SAPS must be consequent in their conduct. The police have recently allowed important protests against gender-based violence (GBV) and farm attacks to proceed peacefully, and we ask that the same consideration is given this protest.
Restaurant owners have not indicated that they will be gathering in large crowds, or contravening Covid-19 health and safety protocols like social distancing and mask wearing.
We implore SAPS and other law enforcement officials to allow the peaceful and very necessary protest to continue unencumbered.
Every South African has the right to protest, and must be allowed to do so.
Issued by Manny De Freitas, DA Shadow Minister of Tourism, 22 July 2020