cooked food ebrahim patel global trade tensions

(In pic – President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Trade Ebrahim Patel in Davos)
– 22/01/2019, Photo: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

Minister misses ‘deadline’ to lift cooked food ban – what happens now?

Ebrahim Patel could have more than just a cooked food dilemma on his plate going forward – he’s now up against multiple legal threats.

cooked food ebrahim patel global trade tensions

(In pic – President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Trade Ebrahim Patel in Davos)
– 22/01/2019, Photo: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

Trade Minister Ebrahim Patel has unwittingly put himself front and centre of a controversy that could’ve been easily avoided. His decision to implement a blanket ban on all cooked foods at supermarkets drew outrage from both the general public and political class – but it’s the business world which has the biggest axe to grind.

What happens now he’s missed the deadline?

Sakeliga – otherwise known as “Business League” – is a South African firm which represents the interest of companies and organisations across the country. Over the weekend, they gave Patel a flexible deadline to work with: Lift the ban by 9:00 on Monday, and all will be forgiven.

However, the hour has been and gone. There is no sign that the government will back down on this issue, and it has forced Sakeliga to act on a threat they made just a few days ago.

“The current situation – where Ministers, government officials and public servants simply announce directives without due process and outside the bounds of law – is unacceptable. It conflicts with the rule of law and is an abuse of power. It detracts from public health, rather than adding to it.

“Considering the Minister’s failure to even acknowledge our letters and the needless harm being done now to businesses and consumers of food production – without any health benefits – we are obliged to take further action. The principles of constitutionality and legality must be followed.”

Sakeliga statement

Ebrahim Patel to face legal action over cooked food ban

Now that Patel has ignored Sakeliga’s deadline, the group have confirmed that they will be taking the minister to court in a bid to resolve this matter. The pressure on the trade department has been ratcheted up in the past 24 hours too, as opposition political parties throw their weight behind the cause.

The DA is seeking a judicial opinion on how to get the cooked food ban lifted. According to shadow trade minister Dean Macpherson, the party are “consulting with a team of lawyers to obtain feedback on the legality of Minister Patel’s actions.” Meanwhile, the FF plus have also weighed in…

“In legal terms, there is no stipulation in the lockdown regulations that makes provision for the exclusion of any category of food products. The only explicit exclusion is food products containing alcohol.”

“Law enforcement agencies that prevent the sale of prepared food or that confiscate it are acting unlawfully and could possibly face civil claims. The consequences of such unlawful actions are causing immeasurable damage to the takeaway industry, as essential food providers, and it will inevitably lead to job losses.”

FF Plus’ Jaco Mulder

This distraction is the last thing anyone needs during these difficult times, and scrutiny has been applied heavily to Patel. He still has the option to backtrack, but a failure to do so will likely create a bizarre legal sideshow – at a moment in history where we all need to be pulling together. Patel has, seemingly, made peace with the fact he’ll be remembered as the bloke who tried to ban cooked food mid-lockdown.