CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance (DA) says that the decision by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday evening to extend the lockdown by two weeks will create an 'economic disaster'.
The DA would prefer the gradual phasing out of the current lockdown regulations - this in spite of the fact that South Africa has not yet reached the peak of the pandemic.
"Our great concern is that President Ramaphosa has justified this extension as if we face a binary choice between health concerns and economic concerns.
We believe it is a great mistake to think in terms of lives versus livelihoods. This is a false dilemma. Rather, the difficult trade-offs to be made are between lives lost or damaged by Covid-19, and lives lost or damaged by the drastic measures to contain its spread," said DA interim leader John Steenhuisen.
He said the absence of empirical data and modelling makes it very difficult to simply agree that a lockdown extension may be an effective means to curb the spread of Covid-19.
"The resulting economic fallout now means that it is not only lives which are threatened by the virus, but livelihoods by our economic and financial collapse as a result of further lockdown regulations," said Steenhuisen.
In his televised speech to the nation, Ramaphosa said the measures we taken by government – such as closing borders and prohibiting gatherings – as well as the changes to behaviour, have definitely slowed the spread of the virus. But the struggle against the coronavirus was far from over.
"We are only at the beginning of a monumental struggle that demands our every resource and our every effort.We cannot relax. We cannot be complacent.In the coming weeks and months, we must massively increase the extent of our response and expand the reach of our interventions," said Ramaphosa.