Elderly customers line at the checkout point in a Johannesburg supermarket. Picture: Denis Farrell/AP
Elderly customers line at the checkout point in a Johannesburg supermarket. Picture: Denis Farrell/AP

'Absolutely the right thing to do': Opposition parties welcome coronavirus lockdown

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Mar 23, 2020

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Johannesburg -  Politicians have welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement tonight of a nationwide lockdown and the deployment of the South African National Defence Force to curb the coronavirus.

DA acting party leader John Steenhuisen said these measures were of critical importance in the country’s efforts to combat the spread of the Coronavirus through the communities and contain, as much as is possible, future COVID-19 infections.

“We also welcome the announcement of a Solidarity Fund to support the vulnerable in the wake of this crisis and thank the patriotic South Africans who made extremely generous donations.

“Locking down our country and deploying the SANDF is something no South African would ever want to see in peacetime, but given the severity of our challenge, it is absolutely the right thing to do.

“The threat of this virus is akin to a wartime situation, and this requires each of us to make sacrifices in our daily lives, and to some of the liberties of our democratic society,” Steenhuisen said.

He added that  it was important to bear in mind that this lockdown has been scheduled for a period of 21 days saying this could possibly be extended should the circumstances call for it, “it is not an indefinite situation.”

Steenhuisen said three weeks of drastic measures now could save many lives and buy critical time for healthcare professionals to deal with the unfolding crisis.

“If we don’t make this sacrifice now, we will pay a far greater price in the long run.

“What is important right now is that every South African recognises the gravity of the situation. This is not something that happens far away and to other people.

“It is not something that might happen to us somewhere down the line. It is here already, and the full impact will hit us very soon. Already the most recent number of confirmed Covid-19 cases – 402, as announced by the Ministry of Health this afternoon – shows that our country has not been spared and that our rate of infection looks to mirror that of countries currently battling hard to treat their citizens and prevent loss of life,” he said.

Steenhuisen said this was the biggest threat the country has faced in its 26 years of democracy.

“It will test our healthcare system and it will test our ability to withstand an economic onslaught like nothing before. It will test the resolve of our people, and this is where we can take great strength. We have been through tough times before, and we have overcome our obstacles. We can do it again, as long as we are in the fight together,” he added.

SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande said: "SACP welcomes the new measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa to contain the spread of Covid-19 and the announcement that measures will be put in place pending further assessments."

Political Bureau

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