PRETORIA – The ANC has expressed “dismay” over the imposition of travel restrictions on several Southern African countries in reaction to the identification of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus.
“The ANC urges all countries to be guided by a scientific and evidence-based approach to the containment of the Covid-19 pandemic. We call upon countries to heed the advice by the World Health Organisation against the closure of borders,” said ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe.
“The ANC condemns these restrictions as ill-informed, unjustified, counter-productive and irrational. They constitute unfair discrimination against South Africa and other countries in Southern Africa.”
Mabe said the “irrationality and inconsistency” of these restrictions make it difficult to escape the conclusion that they are motivated by racial prejudice.
“Furthermore, these restrictions are contrary to agreements and commitments arrived at in multilateral bodies such as G20 summit in Rome last month,” Mabe said.
“The travel restrictions are tantamount to punishing countries such as South Africa for the excellence of their scientific ability to detect new variants of the Covid-19 virus and their commitment to share this knowledge as expeditiously as possible in the spirit of global partnership and co-operation.”
Mabe said far from assisting in containing the Covid-19 pandemic, the restrictions on travel damage the economies of the Southern African countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic.
“We call upon all those countries that have imposed travel restrictions on South Africa and fellow Southern African countries to urgently reconsider and reverse their decisions,” he said.
“We align ourselves with the scientific view that a direct correlation exists between vaccine inequality and the proliferation of new variants of the Covid-19 virus. This poses a grave threat to global efforts to overcome the pandemic.”
In his televised address to the nation on Sunday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa called the travel bans against South Africa and other African countries “unjustified”.
He slammed countries including the UK, US, the EU member states, Canada, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Japan, Thailand and more, for imposing travel restrictions on South Africa and some of its Southern African sister countries.