Afriforum's Head of Policy and Action Ernst Roets during the media briefing at their offices in Centurion. File picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
Afriforum's Head of Policy and Action Ernst Roets during the media briefing at their offices in Centurion. File picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

AfriForum slams government ’misuse’ of Covid-19 crisis

By Samkelo Mtshali Time of article published Jan 12, 2021

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Durban - Civil rights organisation AfriForum has slammed the government's response to the spiralling Covid-19 pandemic claiming that the state had no idea how to handle the coronavirus crisis.

The condemnation followed President Cyril Ramaphosa's address to the nation last night, with AfriForum's Ernst Roets saying that in order to fight the virus urgent medical solutions should be found instead of "forcing attempted political solutions onto society".

In his address, Ramaphosa said that the country would remain on level 3 of the lockdown and that South Africa had recorded an astonishing 190 000 new coronavirus infections and 4 600 new coronavirus deaths since New Year’s Day.

Ramaphosa added that since the start of the pandemic, South Africa had recorded a cumulative number of more than 1.2 million Covid-19 cases with more than 33 000 deaths recorded and more than 148 000 people having been admitted to hospital.

Roets, AfriForum’s head of policy and action, said his organisation and Solidarity’s case against the government regarding the proposed monopoly on the purchasing and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines were now of utmost importance.

He said that the two organisations had already instructed their legal team to prepare a case on this matter and that this action aimed to ensure that people who wished to get the vaccine were not prevented from doing so as a result of mismanagement and corruption.

Roets said that they expected a responsible reaction to the pandemic, however, the government’s “misuse of the virus” to obstruct citizens’ basic rights was inexcusable.

“The president makes it clear that the government has no idea how to react to the virus. We have reached a point where arbitrary regulations are being enforced on society and people who contravene them are arrested, while the money earmarked for fighting the virus is pilfered through corrupt activities.

“All the while, there is no evidence that these arbitrary regulations can in any way effectively limit the spread of the virus. There is, however, evidence that the economic lockdown leads to massive job losses and food shortages,” said Roets.

AfriForum said that some of the arbitrary regulations referred to by Roets included the blatant racial discrimination against Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the regulations relating to clothing and cooked meals that were enforced during earlier stages of the lockdown, the fact that people were forced into quarantine facilities that did not comply to basic standards, as well as the closing of beaches, leading to crowded malls.

“Corruption was also rife during the pandemic and a preliminary investigation indicates that approximately R10.5 billion meant for Covid-19 relief was misappropriated since the start of the pandemic,” said Roets.

Political Bureau

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