Durban - The EFF has slammed what it calls the South African financial sector's refusal to adapt to the danger facing society due to the coronavirus. The Red Berets said that a refusal by banks to grant all South Africans a payment holiday would result in the collapse of the lockdown and lead to an uncontrollable spread of the virus.
The party said that for the national lockdown to succeed all people should be given payment holidays from their mortgage bonds, insurance, medical aid, installments and loans.
EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo said that a patriotic Reserve Bank with a considerate governor should have imposed guidelines upon the financial sector to give payment holidays to South Africans from the start of the 21 day nationwide lockdown.
“This should not have depended on any consultation or autonomous decisions of institutions, but should be motivated solely by the urgent, crucial and definitive fact of the deadly coronavirus pandemic facing us. Yet, to this day this has not happened because the government of the day is paralyzed by cowardice,” said Pambo.
He said that without payment holidays working South Africans faced the possibility of repossessions, evictions and terminations of insurance and medical aid schemes which would result in then being forced to undermine the lockdown rules by going out to fend for themselves to make ends meet.
Pambo said that a refusal and reluctance from financial institutions to grant all South Africans a payment holiday would result in the collapse of the lockdown and lead to a massive increase in infections.
“No financial institution should on its own be more powerful than the state. It cannot be that our government fears certain sectors of the economy and society because others have threatened potential violent responses should state regulations not be in line with their demands.
“It cannot be that government bows to the pressure of any one, merely because such people are demanding that the state relax regulations so they can continue to make profit during a dangerous health disaster,” said Pambo.
He said if the state bows to the demands of one sector what would follow those concessions and compromises was that the alcohol industry would also demand to be exempted from the government’s regulations which render lockdown senseless and collapse it.
Pambo added that the state had to be uncompromising and not relax any regulations, particularly in relation to all non essential sectors of the economy adding that failure by the government to be firm in its approach would lead to the lockdown disintegrating and see anarchists triumph leading to the death of people.
“We commend the SANDF and SAPS members who are on the ground daily enforcing the lockdown regulations, they are putting their lives at risk by confronting non compliant people who insult and provoke them.
“The SANDF and SAPS must never compromise in imposing the regulations of the lockdown because these have everything to do with avoiding millions in loss of life,” Pambo said.
Cas Coovadia, Managing Director of the Banking Association of South Africa, said that banks were individually offering payment holidays on a case by case basis.
"They can only do it on a blanket basis if there is fiscal support from government, as has been the case in Italy, UK, US and other jurisdictions," Coovadia said.