'Don't try to beat system': Dlamini Zuma urges SA to abide by eased lockdown regulations
Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has warned South Africans not to break the eased national lockdown regulations, or face even stricter measures.
Dlamini Zuma and Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel on Saturday announced measures that would come into effect on May 1 as part of easing the lockdown and reopening the economy, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa this week.
"This is in our hands, all of us, collectively and individually,” said Dlamini Zuma.
To ease the lockdown, which started more than four weeks ago to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, the government had adopted what it called a risk-adjusted approach, she said.
The government’s approach took into account the advice of the ministerial advisory committee headed by epidemiologist and infectious diseases specialist Professor Salim Abdool Karim, that the high point of the virus spread was likely to be in September.
Dlamini Zuma said this approach was developed by the health and economic cluster departments, incorporating comments made by business organisations, political parties, unions and commentators.
The risk-adjusted approach would incorporate three different systems, with the first having five alert levels.
Ramaphosa announced on Thursday that the country was currently under level 5 - full lockdown - but that this would be eased this coming Friday, although restrictions would still be high.
Dlamini Zuma said if South Africans wanted to go to lower levels of the lockdown and return to normality, then everyone must make the necessary sacrifices and rise to the collective challenge.
"Let us stick to the rules and don’t be like others who want to beat the system,” she warned.
According to Dlamini Zuma, some rogue elements in society had even tried to bypass the national lockdown restrictions on movement across provinces by carrying empty coffins, as mourners were allowed to travel across provincial boundaries.
"This is not the time to try and beat the system; this is the time to work together,” she said, adding that if the regulations were not followed, the country would revert to level 5, or even stricter measures.
From Friday, it is going to be mandatory to wear a cloth mask for anyone leaving their place of residence.
Dlamini Zuma suggested that home-made masks would be allowed, including the use of scarves and T-shirts to cover one’s nose and mouth.
Companies that would be allowed to gradually open from Friday had also been warned to follow all health guidelines - or not open at all.
Employees would have to be screened when entering workplaces and also be tested to ensure that no asymptomatic people slipped through the cracks.
From Monday, Cabinet ministers would brief the nation on the guidelines to be followed in the reopening of schools, universities and various sectors of the economy, culminating in the publishing on Thursday of the regulations to govern level-4 lockdown.
Through the programme, informal traders, small and big businesses will receive pro bono business expertise, financial assistance, legal advice as well as mentorship.
Melanie Veness, the chief executive of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, said the economic reality was dire and the support mechanisms that had been put in place were not working.
“The systems are overwhelmed. Payments that should be coming in to support small and big business are not coming in.
“We are doing what we can to help our businesses repurpose so that they can cater to the needs out there at the moment, but it is difficult to do this under lockdown conditions,”she said.
“I am concerned about the manufacturing sector because prior to lockdown a number of businesses were already on shaky ground.”
Nigel Ward, president of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said they were engaging with Ramaphosa's risk-adjusted approach to reopen the economy.
He said the chamber needed to determine how business could work hand-in-hand with the government to ensure a smooth transition back to economic activity and productivity to secure social stability.
“Reopening the economy during this phase of the pandemic is a complex process with different implications for regional communities and our various industry sectors,” he said.
“We believe that SMMEs, spaza shops and informal businesses will be the worst affected by Covid-19 given that many are reliant on monthly income to sustain operations, with no access to additional capital.”
From Monday, several Cabinet ministers will brief the nation on the guidelines to be followed on the reopening of schools and universities, and various sectors of the economy.
Level 4 lockdown regulations would then be published.