ACDP calls for 'immediate' lifting of lockdown restrictions
Durban - The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) on Wednesday called for the immediate lifting of lockdown restrictions on all sectors of the South African economy, while ensuring strict hygiene requirements remained in place.
"We are of the view that the South African economy is facing one of its worst storms ever.
"Prior to taking the reins from his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, it was President Cyril Ramaphosa himself who lamented over the nine waste years under the presidency of Zuma. The estimates are that those wasted years have cost the South African economy in excess of R1 trillion. Put into perspective, that is some 20% of our GDP and about 70% of our national budget," said ACDP deputy president, Wayne Thring.
He said the "New Dawn" punted by Ramaphosa had failed to materialise, as South Africa remained the most unequal nations in the world, had one of the globe's highest unemployment rates, and ratings agencies had downgraded the country to junk status.
"It must be said that under the ruling party, poverty, inequality and unemployment have continued to grow. The wounds inflicted on our economy up until this stage were self-inflicted, where megalomaniacs plundered, raped and pillaged our fiscus with impunity.
"Now, to add insult to injury we have been inflicted with a Covid-19 pandemic that has brought the global economy to a virtual standstill."
Economists have said that the South African economy could shrink between five and ten per cent, while the debt to GDP ratio could increase from 60% to 80% this year. The six per cent deficit on the country's national budget was set to increase to 12% of GDP.
"Additionally, a further one million workers could be added to the ranks of the unemployed, taking our unemployment rate of 38%, on the expanded definition, to beyond 50% after lockdown. Furthermore, the South African Employers Association indicated that of the businesses surveyed in South Africa, 68% said they would survive a three-week lockdown but only 28% said they would survive beyond one month," said Thring.
It was time, said Thring, to unlock the country's economy and "remove the onerous restrictions" accompanying lockdown.
"According to South African actuaries, if the lockdown is not removed soon, the mortality rate as a consequence of unemployment, malnutrition and hunger, will be 29 times worse than Covid-19 itself.
"The ACDP is on record for saying, as early as April 13, that if due attention is not given to our economy the consequences will make the Covid-19 pandemic look like a Sunday picnic. Hence, we now call for the immediate lifting of restrictions on all sectors of the economy, while simultaneously calling for these sectors to adhere to strict health protocols, to limit the spread of Covid-19."
Thring said government's focus should be on protecting citizens who were most vulnerable to the virus, such as the elderly and persons with underlying medical conditions.
The party favoured a zonal or area-specific approach to restrictions, he said.
African News Agency/ANA