Grade 1 to Grade 7 pupils from Laer Volkskool in Graaf Reinet getting ready for the first day of school. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane /African News Agency (ANA)
Grade 1 to Grade 7 pupils from Laer Volkskool in Graaf Reinet getting ready for the first day of school. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane /African News Agency (ANA)

Ramaphosa must grow spine and end hard lockdown: DA’s Steenhuisen

By African News Agency Time of article published Aug 12, 2020

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Durban - DA leader John Steenhuisen said on Wednesday that President Cyril Ramaphosa needed to "grow a spine" and end South Africa's Covid-19 lockdown.

"The DA calls on President Ramaphosa to end the hard lockdown now, including the irrational bans on tobacco and alcohol. The tourism industry, schools, and borders need to be fully opened, the curfew lifted, and the state of disaster ended. It is high time for Ramaphosa to grow a spine, stand up to his party and start putting South Africa first," said Steenhuisen via a statement.

Steenhuisen's call comes a day after a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCC) and Cabinet meetings where the country's lockdown was under discussion.

The DA leader said South Africa's Covid-19 infection rate was declining, which was taking pressure off the public health system. "At the same time, our recovery rate has increased significantly. While this is no reason to drop our guard, it is reason enough to fully open our economy. This must happen immediately."

The country has been in lockdown since March 27, and is currently in level 3, but the devastation to the economy continues. An estimated three million people have lost their jobs as a result of the lockdown, now into 138 days.

Steenhuisen said there was general agreement that a second wave of Covid-19 infections was "unlikely but not impossible".

"Either way, we cannot hide from this virus forever while our lives and livelihoods fall apart. We need to learn to live with it, since it will still be with us for many months, perhaps even years, to come.

"While we should all continue to wear our masks and adhere to safety protocols, we need to pick up the pieces and start to rebuild our shattered economy, which has lost over a trillion rand and three million jobs to this long, irrational, secretive, brutally hard lockdown."

Steenhuisen said the DA had long called for the economy to be opened, with hard lockdown replaced by a well-resourced, coordinated testing strategy to suppress the epidemic.

"Economists have estimated that an effective testing strategy would have cost around R20 billion per year, allowing us to adequately suppress the virus. Instead, our economy has lost over a trillion rand, thousands of lives have been destroyed, and millions of livelihoods, while the virus has spread uncontrolled in vulnerable communities.

"The government’s rank failure to allocate the necessary resources and skills towards building testing capacity has cost South Africans dearly. This is the price of an incapable state, hollowed out and corrupted by years of cadre deployment, where political patronage guides state appointments, rather than any consideration of ability to serve the public."

He said South Africa never could afford more than a three to five-week hard lockdown to prepare its hospitals, build testing capacity, drive awareness, and put in place the safety protocols needed to slow the spread of the virus.

"A capable, caring government could have bridged vulnerable households and business across that short divide, saving lives and livelihoods. Instead the ANC government opened up a wide chasm and allowed people and businesses to fall to their deaths."

African News Agency (ANA)

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