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COVID-19 Council’s Meeting Minutes Are Classified

Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko said minutes of the national coronavirus command council meetings were classified as it had the same powers and responsibilities as Cabinet.

Diko spoke to SABC on Saturday responding to concerns by two lawyers on the role of the body, questioning whether decisions taken by the council are legally binding.

She said the command council was accountable to Parliament.

Advocates Nazeer Cassim and Erin Richardson said they wanted clarity on the powers of the command council.

Diko said much like the Cabinet, the body accounts to Parliament for its resolutions responding to COVID-19.

“We want to reassure South Africans that this is not a structure shrouded in secrecy but a coordinating mechanism to ensure that as many views are brought into the management of the disaster we are facing.”

Among decisions being questioned is the reversal of the sale and purchase of cigarettes.

But Diko said proceedings were confidential.

“Yes, the minutes of the command council would be classified. It is a coordinating structure of Cabinet; its business is presented to Cabinet and its decision are ratified by Cabinet. The minutes of those coordinating structures are still subject to the same rules of documentation as Cabinet itself.”

Diko said all members of Cabinet sat in the command council and remain accountable in their individual and collective responsibilities to Parliament.