Cape Town - Voices from business and politics in the province have reacted to Tuesday’s call by Premier Alan Winde to scrap the national state of disaster, which is in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, days after Cabinet approved the extension of the national state of disaster by another month, Winde used a President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) meeting to ask for a better Covid-19 management system to be implemented to reduce pressures placed on the economy and drive job creation.
Winde asked for the adoption of a differentiated approach to the pandemic in a bid to reduce pressure on the economy.
“There should not be a one size fits all approach to implementing restrictions. Restrictions should be implemented in line with each provincial healthcare system’s ability to cope. We have learnt how to manage waves and have the capacity to do so at a provincial level.”
Winde suggested, that to further support the economy, an electronic vaccination system to show whether residents had been vaccinated, or conducted the necessary tests, should be implemented.
He said this could include a cellphone application that could show whether citizens have been vaccinated and also record test results.
Responding to Winde’s request, Good MPL Brett Herron said there was a need to continue balancing the ability of the healthcare system to assist those who are infected and need care with the need to re-open the economy as much as possible.
“Reopening the economy, completely risks a resurgence of infection and the inevitable lockdown.
“I would support a more predictable level of restriction since this is easier for businesses to plan around instead of an approach which opens up everything and shuts everything down and opens up and then shuts everything down.
“As a business owner myself, directly affected by these lockdowns, the sudden and unpredictable shutdown of my business was more damaging than the current moderate restrictions which allow me to plan and manage how the business operates,” said Herron.
EFF provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego accused Winde of trying to score political points.
“The premier cannot distance himself from a Covid 19 management system of which he has been part and parcel of from inception.
“This premier is not serious about lives and livelihoods. For him it is all about profits that can be made by the owners of industries. We are still of the conviction that the Covid-19 pandemic and responses to it must be handled by scientists and not pseudo-scientists like Premier Winde,” said Xego.
He said the people of the province are tired and exhausted because of the disaster regulations and the negative impact they have had on the psychological well being of citizens.
With regards to a better way to manage Covid-19 than South Africa has been doing, Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, Jacques Moolman, spoke of unforeseen outcomes.
“It is difficult to imagine one, other than to urge the powers that be to recognise that every decision to restrict economic activity to save lives may have unintended consequences for mental health, family cohesion, children's education and other negative results in society.”
Meanwhile, last week, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele said the president had directed cabinet members to look at possible innovations which could assist the resumption of activities around the country.
In Parliament, Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the government reviews lockdown restrictions on a regular basis, and as far as the easing restrictions, he said that there could be some relaxations on the way, but there would still be a responsibility on citizens to follow the protocols.