The increasing absurdity of Patel’s red pen

Latest clothing and motor dealer regulations are so illogical they’re laughable …
Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade and Industry. ‘Crop bottoms’, decree the regulations, may be sold as long as they are ‘worn with boots and leggings’. Image: Moneyweb

We thought the Department of Trade and Industry’s artificial restrictions on e-commerce under lockdown were absurd (every other country in the world has permitted unfettered e-commerce as it is perfectly suited to preventing the spread of Covid-19).

However, directions gazetted on Tuesday for the motor service and retail sector as well as a six-page document detailing exactly which clothing, shoes and bedding items may be sold under Level 4 of the countrywide lockdown take the sheer insanity of restrictions to another level entirely.

The clothing directive was rightfully described by former DA member of parliament Gavin Davis as “Kafkaesque”.

The directions, which number all the way to 3.9.11, state that short-sleeved T-shirts can be sold as long as they are “promoted and displayed as under garments for warmth”, while shirts should be “displayed and promoted to be worn under jackets coats and/or knitwear”.

There are certain nightmarish qualities of Kafka in this document, sure, but there’s also a sprinkling of both Escher and Lewis Carroll too.

What would Alice make of it all?

“Crop bottoms”, decree the regulations, may be sold as long as these are “worn with boots and leggings”.

Bedding can be sold (well, 11 specified products), but towels – still not, for reasons unknown.

All these regulations actually achieve is the prohibition of the sale of sandals, flip-flops and swimwear, which aren’t exactly in great demand during winter!

It’s almost as if Ebrahim Patel, our Minister of Trade and Industry, doesn’t trust the market to operate.

The only logical explanation for the exclusion of (some) summer items is that the department would prefer that retailers don’t dump their unsold summer stock in clearance sales, attracting people to stores unnecessarily.

It has no doubt considered measures as peculiar as price controls, but perhaps decided that micromanagement of an entire clothing and textile sector which it is “desperate” to “save” would be preferable.

Under the government’s grand Level 4 regulations, manufacturers can only make winter clothing. Patel clearly has no idea how manufacturing works. Winter is half a month away. Garment manufacturers need to be working on their spring and summer ranges.

Can Patel bring himself to ban anything outright? He likely knows that an outright ban won’t stand up to a legal challenge.

Rather, he gambles that retailers and businesses won’t contest any of these absurd, irrational regulations. So far, he’s right. Even Woolies, armed with a strong legal opinion, backed down on the irrational ban of the sale of rotisserie chicken.

In the absence of detailed “directions”, some retailers will sell you kitchen items. Others won’t. You can buy a two-plate stove but not a microwave. And good luck finding a plate!

Meanwhile, in another part of Wonderland …

The directions for the sale of motor vehicles, with a three-phased opening stretching into June “until the end of level four”, is another fantasy read gazetted on Tuesday.

Most dealers are part of enormous, mostly JSE-listed groups, with armies of occupational health and safety officers. Under current circumstances, they would prefer staff have as little contact with customers as possible – they don’t need a gazette to specify that signatures “ought” to be electronic.

I know of a handful of large dealerships in Johannesburg that didn’t sell a single vehicle in March, never mind April when lockdown was in full effect.

The majority of dealers opened their doors last Monday already, with or without Minister Patel’s directions. Market forces are an amazing thing.

An entire page of regulations surrounding the service and repair of vehicles, summed up, says that basically any repairs are allowed as long as they’re not cosmetic. Again, why does this have to be regulated?

Impossible art

Patel muffled the outcry and pressure surrounding the selective reopening of e-commerce by promising that “directions may permit” its “incremental expansion” in regulations. Now, following these two sets of directions, one shouldn’t be so sure.

Not to be outdone, Minister of Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni gazetted her own six pages of directions spelling out the permits required and terms of operation for small-scale bakeries, small-scale hardware stores, “informal and micro restaurants and shisanyamas”, tradespeople, sole traders in the clothing and textiles sector as well as cooperatives.

Shisanyamas are only allowed to sell cooked food (their entire reason for existence) if “it is for home deliveries and the orders are placed telephonically or online”. This pipedream aside, the regulations are so poorly crafted that these types of businesses are not even defined.

If this is the chaos businesses are being subjected to under Level 4, just imagine the utter nightmare once districts and provinces are at different levels.

Certain required manufacturing inputs will be allowed in some parts of the country but not others. You may be able to buy something legally in Hartbeespoort but not a few kilometres down the road in Atteridgeville.

Many rightfully argue that instead of regulating what is allowed, government ought to be regulating what is not. Yet this is where we find ourselves.

The thing is, businesses, especially small businesses, will do whatever it takes to survive and pay their employees.

This experiment in central planning is already failing.

All sorts of shortcuts are being taken. To use a single example: garden services all across Johannesburg are operating, despite only being permitted under proposed regulations for Level 3 in government’s risk-adjusted strategy for exiting the lockdown.

And as one business starts operating – to survive! – so another supplier or customer does too. Economies are very complex things. They cannot be micromanaged through endless lists of directives and regulations.

The lockdown is ending. Whether the cabal of ministers and their gazetted regulations want it to or not.



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I am without words. I would rather not post a comment at this stage. So I will sit on my hands with my thumbs firmly lodged in my butt.

People are at their wits end with these restrictions which is nothing other than childish

If Patel thinks people will take heed to his ludicrous regulations, time to think again

Imagine a farmer in Upington, 30 degrees in the sun wearing a long sleeve shirt and long pants! Think he gives a hoot about idiotic regulations?

Do these Ministers not think? They brush the entire country with one stroke when there are different strokes for each town/Province

Many areas are hardly infected, unlock them

The people listened, the people obeyed, the people are saying after 7 weeks:

“We’ve had enough of your draconian style politics playing with our livelihood like we’re a Government owned Dairy Farm in Vrede!”

We don’t work for Government, this is a democracy and Government is neither our Mother or Father, so stop treating the Nation like kids!

Government is the cause of our problems, not the Solution !!

The people are the Solution to the problem

The voters deserve the directives of the leaders….and the leaders deserve the non-conformance of the illiterate massess. What good are rules if they cannot be understood or enforced by either party? The African dream!

You are assuming ANC ministers are capable of rational thought. In 26 years, I have yet to see any evidence of this, and this applies to their voting fodder too.

The people chose their leaders. They deserve them.

Let’s face it, we have a nation run by proxy. Private health care, private security, private infrastructure building, private security, private energy production, etc etc. And this is also true of tax generation but the ANCgovt is abusing the compact and thinks it knows best.

They don’t and they are too dismissive of the private sector, not fully comprehending who actually runs the economy.

Here’s a Quiz: Suppose you have two brain cells, one for respiration and one for intellect, but only one can function at any time, and the rest just float around somewhere in never never land, then the outcome of decisions are… Well, read the article..

Peters principle applies here. Patel and NDZ have been allowed to surpass their natural level of competence. Incompetence is driven by incompetents:(

Is that allowed Chris ?
My reading of regulation 4.7.67 clearly defines sitting only being allowed with hands being shown resting on your lap..

Under new regulations announced last night, at level 3.9 you are allowed one thumb up your butt – as long as it’s the leftist one.
The rightest one must be in your pocket, out of sight.

Actually, the right thumb is useful,can do the job and has been waiting for years to be used, …but let’s go to Cuba and blow R500million to find a cuban thumb.

Here’s a trick he missed

Beggars at robots should now beg online

I cannot wait for Trevor Noah to comment on this.

He did and was shocked by what his comrade had written

But having said that, they all pay lip service and bow to the faction that rules the roost of the ANC..CR being the biggest puppet

Our judicial system is the only thing standing between us the people and total chaos!

ANC, voted for by the people.The masses will soon realise what “hoax” means, even the most uneducated amongst them!

We have been flung into an abyss so deep not even an IMF bailout can save the day!

Ah, Seve, Seve… You thought it’s your thumbs but it’s not, it’s the ANC’s !

Did we really think that the same corrupt Government who destroyed our economy pre Covid would be capable of steering the country through a crisis?

All they’ve done is to prove to the nation that they are indeed incompetent

They cannot Govern or manage our country, how on earth are they going to “govern or manage” a pandemic?

From a recession pre Covid to a depression post Covid, courtesy of The Council

What a legacy to live by! A poor show, appalling to say the least

I’m getting closer to believing the conspiracy theories doing the rounds on Social Media

The country is being run by The Council and not by Parliament

The ANC is starting to prove the conspirators right!

Agree. The sad part is that the Honorable Minister probably tried his best. However, his best is on such a childishly low level that it is to cry for. The government and their deployed cadres in the state machinery just aren’t capable of handling a complex situation, such as this. They will tend to go back to what they can do, which is not to come up with a strategy and a workable plan, but to make a list of clothing. It is the result of years of insistence on unquestioning party loyalty, which turned party members into sycophants. That, in turn, lead to a level of mediocrity that is astounding. When, under these circumstances, consensus is seeked, it results in a final decision that reflects the opinion of the mediocre majority. The ANC creates mindless drones and are then surprised when the drones can’t lead or think. Back in the day the ANC had people like Joe, Nelson and Walter; leaders who could theorize, consider and think. Now we are stuck with mindless consensus seekers, coming up with clothing lists.

he was just being Patel-ernistic

He thought he was being clever, complex and far thinking. Probably was in the company he has.

What is the adage about putting the frog in warm water, turning up the temperature slowly but surely, over a period of time until he either jumps out the pot with no safety net to catch him, or he boils to death?

Get the analogy?


Only an A-hole keeps paying tax and Rates and Taxes to this lot while you are being destroyed.

It is an ANC plot to reinvent SA with most businesses owned by them. USING YOUR TAX MONEY TO PAY FOR IT.

My “Funding” as they like to call it has been cut off. So unfortunately the bit I have left I am not paying to them to destroy me.

You cant protest the normal way that’s why the army is in the streets.

Don’t pay for your own demise.

Just ignore these idiotic regulations, and any regulation that you feel endagers your health and those around you. The government has lost all credibility and deserves to be ignored and ridiculed.

I thought that Ministers were supported by a competent civil service who have the main duty of protecting the people from nincompoops who get appointed by idiots. But Cyril should never have left the task of filling in the details to anyone within the super twit team.

Nature allows people like Patel to come into this World and to exist in order to allow people like Trevor Noah to earn a living and to make lots of money amusing people like you and me.

Ah, Navi Navigator… You thought it’s your thumbs but it’s not, it’s the ANC’s !

Alice in wonderland is also home to the “Mad Hatter”

Does the mad hatter not have a boss that can fire him?

Oh, I forgot.

Yip. Either just as stupid, or no balls. ANC.

“ The thing is, businesses, especially small businesses, will do whatever it takes to survive and pay their employees.”

that is the crux of government’s problem. We are not exactly a nation that likes and obeys rules & regulations. This kind of childish over-reaching, unenforceable nonsense merely guarantees that more South Africans will “maak ‘n plan”. We will by end June have 50 times as many persons prosecuted for breaking covid rules as have the disease.

Imagine you are policeman that needs to know all this and enforce it.

The Dishonourable Minister of Trade Disruption and Industry Destruction has obviously never been to Durban, where t-shirts and slip slops are considered to be essential winter gear…

Yup. This is what you get when the karl marx fanclub is running the show.

Expect the appearance of PRAVDA SA VERSION soon.

ANC have let this go to their heads in the wrong way.

What colors are we allowed to buy, and is true that Red and Blue are forbidden? Asking for a friend

Red or Black are very much permitted. White or brownish-coloured are frowned upon and are to be ignored or avoided.

What. An. Absolute. Cretin. But, hey, this is ANC, so… Thanks to our enlightened electorate for voting them in!!!

Stop the with the bitching, you the people voted them in, you forget they were well trained for generations until 1994 on how to control, you lucky you can still and not being arrested for fornicating the wrong colour mistress.

Exactly what a politician is. A useless motormouth parasite.

Businesses survive when competent people make decisions, in good times and bad times. They have skin in the game.

Parasites like these people, can tell you what they “will” do then get into power, have no clue what to do or when to do it. Throw them a curved ball and they think of their survival only.

The socialist experiment is not getting off the ground so lekker. Also n pre-curser on the NHI, o my word…

According to Prof Wim de Villiers, In SA from HIV 194, from TB 80 and from diabetes 69 people die every day. ie 283. Add to this the mureder rate of 57 per day.
Covid has killed 219 so far.
Think about that for a while.

The Covid figures government is working with is most likely miles off target. Thousand + but completely asymptomatic. We are seeing this with cold surgical cases having compulsory COVID tests prior to admission and are finding the most unlikely person to be +. Unless you test everybody as well as do anti-body tests ( not available here ) you have no clue. Death rate then extremely low but we do not lockdown for TB etc.
The new poverty these incompetents are creating will explode TB exponentially
I suspect they still have’nt got there hospitals properly geared for a rise in infections. Imagine a NHI in future

so actually we’re still in credit??

There has been a faultline running through the ANC almost since it’s inception with the pro communists on one side and the pro capitalists on the other. This is manifested by all the infighting that has been reported over the years and has resulted in an almost permanent state of paralysis that has become the hallmark of our economic growth.

It just boggles the mind how a capitalist like our president can tolerate let alone appoint a man with such impeccable communist credentials to the pivotal position of minister of Trade and Industry!

Why, oh why, do Communists not realise that their dogma is dead and buried. As mentioned in previous posts, over 30 counties have tried Communism and kicked it out because it DIDN’T WORK. Another 50+ who had prominent Communist parties sharing power have also dumped it. (Google list of ‘Former Communist parties.) So why do we still HAVE a Communist Party? And even worse, why do we have Communists like Patel, Davies and Gordhan in power in govt? Guys, it DOES NOT WORK. As historically proven. And no, you will not make it work here either. QED.

Because Squirrel is a puppet, not a leader. He is told what to say, when to say it, how to say it and who to appoint!

The faction will be ousting him in time to come, sooner than we think

He was put there to calm the nerves and entice investment..The virus has all but destroyed that, they don’t need him any longer

The new puppet is already waiting in the wings!

Mr Patel’s rules are even being ridiculed on Bloomberg. Where did the ANC find these people?

“If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.”

I have some blue and green haviana’s for sale, size 8 and 9. I have one kg of oven dried donkiedrolle for smokers. I will throw in 2 pages of the Sunday times free of charge. ( Please I beg you don’t tell Patel )

Agree with Chris Stoffel, words cannot describe……

I cringe when I think that this clown, that other wandering cadaver and the mad hatter general represent, internationally, the public face of the collective wisdom of the ministerial “expertise” who front that revolutionary styled national command council. I am at the point where I really suspect that the virus has already infected the cabinet and has mutated into a brain and common sense devouring organism. Pity the President. How does one get logical, rational thought and consensus in a collective comprising the walking dead?

Interesting comments : The Facts however are that we are stuck with this Govt , like it or not : In truth there is no alternative .
The masses have been brainwashed and wont change their vote , so there actually cannot be a change in Govt .
They will NEVER vote the DA in : thats the simple truth .
The only possible change for the masses , conveniently now promoted by Covid 19 , is the EFF : If that happens then thats the end of civilisation in RSA :
So in reality if one is not happy with the situation in RSA , the ONLY solution is Emigration (for better or for worse) : The Masses will vote like idiots for ever so the slope only goes downwards . Amandla

”Pigs don’t know pigs stink”!

“It’s almost as if Ebrahim Patel, our Minister of Trade and Industry, doesn’t trust the market to operate.”

You forgot to add .. “without my detaled supervsion.”

He definitely does not trust the marketplace at all, in any sense. He only trusts government and the bigger it is the better despite clear evidence that light control tends to work better for everyone. His approach is always heavy handed & wrapped in endless requirements for permits, licensing etc etc in order to protect the monopolies he favours.

“Patel clearly has no idea how manufacturing works.” Exactly. And this is the Minister of Trade and Industry we’re talking about!

The previous one was a full blown communist. They hate profitable competitive business, but like to rule over them.

Forget V, forget W, forget U, it will a limping L (downwards).

CR in not running this country

NDZ and the top 6 run this country

The worst thing about this debacle are the simpering, obsequious platitudes of corporate SA, like MrPrice and Truworths, whose CEO’s praise this pathetic communist for his “leadership at a time like this” whilst accepting his ludicrous decrees. When is big business going to stand up to governments bull!?

article headline is non-compliant, red pens only available from Tues midnight next week; only blue or green pens available for sale this week

Pity this coprolite isn’t a COVID stat

One of the late Mandela’s wise quotes:

“If the ANC does to you what the apartheid govt did to yo, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the apartheid govt”

Enough said.

How can a chap like this be a cabinet minister. He was one of the Nkandla accused number ones closest ministers . As trade and industry minister he was a total failure. He is completely unsuitable for a cabinet level position.

Is there no position for him in Forestry…maybe near Springbok?

Springbok will never be the same again.

He would advocate a billion rand tree project, with sawmills and furniture factories.

I grew up in Springbok. Patel won’t last a week there.

Send him there to-night

Ordinarily one would have to look far and wide to find the kind of jackasses that we routinely see cropping up as ministers. Now we have to tragically acknowledge that these are the BEST people they have.

What if you’re part of that “fashion” group that wear T-shirts OVER warm shirts?
And what if, like me, you’re from Durban and a T-shirt IS what you consider “winter wear” and have no intension of sweating cylinders, where all you need is a slightly thicker cotton? It’s currently a good 5°C warmer here by app, but 10°C warmer in reality.
The holes in my shirt are letting the aircon in and I can’t go buy another one at this frigid time of year.

Sensible thinking retailers are opening for business and ignoring Patel’s fantasy “regulations.”

Its pretty simpel
White South Africans are being left out in the dark
We are not part of this country any longer and thats that
The anc is doing everything in there power to keep us at bay, but reckon they should be scared very scared…

When more clothing retailers fail, Edcon gone allready, Patel and his Stalinist comrades will of course blame capitalism and “free” markets.

These clowns have no tasted power and wont let go of it once corona is over.

What has been really worrying is that the mainstream media have been rather reluctant to criticise gov. Those that have, have been derided as Trump clones, racists and ironically facists

Where is the media having a go and stating the obvious.
Oh, I forgot they put him in power via CR17 funds.
where are the voices of the vocal editors and journalist’s. Steenhuisen seems to be the only voice.

I think we are being a bit hard on Patel. As one of the commentators mentioned ministers have not proven to be the sharpest nails in the drawers. They spend most of their time in comradely discussions with other ministers discussing this and that and instruct their bureaucrats working under them (most of whom are redeployed cadres) to come up with discussion documents which get turned into policy and eventually regulations such as this. Its very clear that the erudite Mr Patel has been misled by the staff working for him.
I just hope they get their acts together before they start locking down different regions at different levels resulting in my neighbor who works in North West, having to take take time off at the mine to buy my booze, slip-slops and t-shirts because local black-market prices are ridiculous.

And they allow the Durban July to go ahead??

We are officially living in cloud cuckoo land where we are not allowed to buy open toed shoes. So I will be walking barefoot if my Greencross Sandals break. I suffer from foot swelling and the sandals allow me to adjust when necessary.

End of comments.



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