President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

Ramaphosa calls for unity and lockdown adherence following backlash on regulations

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published May 4, 2020

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Johannesburg - Following backlash and growing public unhappiness about the lockdown regulations, President Cyril Ramaphosa says the decisions taken so far have been carefully considered to balance out the needs of all South Africans.

Since the regulations governing level four of the lockdown were announced there has been backlash from some parts of society. Some of the polarising issues include the continued ban on the sale of tobacco products. There have also been complaints about not enough time given for exercise with an only three-hour slot in the morning.

But the president said the country was in “uncharted waters” and it was better to err on the side of caution when dealing with the spread of the coronavirus. He said the regulations such as the ban on alcohol had been followed in other countries such as Mexico. 

“Every regulation we have put in place has been carefully considered. Along the way, there has been consultation with medical experts, various constituencies and different industries. We have been guided by international bodies and the experience of other countries.
 
“The reality is that we are sailing in uncharted waters. There is still a great deal about the epidemiology of the virus that is unknown. It is better to err on the side of caution than to pay the devastating price of a lapse in judgment in future,” the president said in his weekly letter.
 
“While there are differing views on some of the decisions we have taken – and in some instances, these have polarised opinion – the government is making every effort to act in a way that advances the rights to life and dignity of all our people.”
 
Ramaphosa said the decisions taken especially on the ban of tobacco were done based on advice from experts. He said it was not true that the decision could only be blamed on one individual, Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, but it was taken after careful consideration by the national command council.

“On 23 April, I announced that cigarette sales would be permitted during Level 4. This was based on the view of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), and which was contained in the draft framework that was published for consultation.
 
“After careful consideration and discussion, the NCCC reconsidered its position on tobacco. As a result, the regulations ratified by Cabinet and announced by Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on 29 April extended the prohibition. This was a collective decision and the public statements by both myself and the minister were done on behalf of and mandated by, the collective I lead,” Ramaphosa said.

He noted that South Africans had been adhering to lockdown regulations and he asked they continue to do so. 

“Under these extraordinary circumstances, as government, as individuals and as a society we will at times make mistakes. When these occur, we will correct them. But we must carry on, losing neither our nerve nor our resolve. It is my plea that we continue in this way and that we remain united in confronting this grave threat to the life and dignity of our people,” he said.

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak visit IOL's #Coronavirus trend page

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the government's 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or go to SA Coronavirus for more information.

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