Dugmore slams Western Cape premier’s 'reckless' call to ease lockdown
The leader of the opposition in the Western Cape legislature, Cameron Dugmore, has criticised Premier Alan Winde's call for the province to move to level 3 before the end of the month.
Dugmore said such an important decision should not be "swayed by short-term populism and party political agendas at the expense of people's lives".
Highlighting the highest daily increase of new infections in the country yesterday – 724 – of which 608 were recorded in the Western Cape, Dugmore said in a speech in the legislature on Thursday: "The Western Cape currently has 55.6% of all infections. We have the highest death toll.
"We acknowledge that our province has tested more people as a percentage of the population. At the same time, we note that Gauteng has tested the greatest number of the national total.
"There are particular reasons, aside from testing, that have greatly contributed to the Western Cape having the greatest number of infections, transmissions and deaths. We must be honest about these factors as painful as the truth may be.
“Despite us being the national epicentre of the pandemic, Premier Winde has made the reckless call that the province goes to level three before the end of the month. This is in direct defiance of the call by President (Cyril) Ramaphosa last night.”
Noting that Rampahosa had said on Wednesday that "we will immediately begin a process of consultation with relevant stakeholders on a process that by the end of May, most of the country be placed on alert level 3, but that those parts of the country with the highest rates of infection remain on level 4", he deemed Winde's call reckless and clearly driven by a DA agenda.
“An agenda of exceptionalism. An agenda which places economic recovery at the expense of people's lives. This call by Premier Winde and the DA is not in the best interests of our province.
“The ANC in the province is opposed to this blanket approach of placing the economy over the lives of the people.”
Dugmore said to make matters worse there was no consultation with labour, business and civil society, nor a plan to ensure that all workplaces will be safe.
"And this also bearing in mind ongoing attempts by some, even in this house (legislature), to block access to labour inspectors to certain factories and workplaces," he said.
"Transmission rates are highest in our province because of grave mistakes made by this very provincial government. Many tested have been sent to crowded homes to await their results.
"Others who have tested positive have been sent to isolate at home. We have evidence of many such cases. We would suggest that such neglect is key to the high number of infections, transmissions and deaths.
"We have to find a solution for our province. Through facts, we must arrive at the best approach for the Western Cape…
"We will, from next week, begin a process of consultation with business, labour and civil society. Our objective is to find the best solution which places people's lives first, while at the same time beginning the targeted opening of the economy.
“We call on him to reject the misguided call by John Steenhuisen. We call on the premier to work with all opposition parties.
"Premier Winde must now put the interest of our province first. Our commitment is to work with him and our President to chart the best way forward. Time is against us.
"We will do everything in our power to find a solution which puts the lives of our people first while also laying the basis for a sustainable economic recovery.
"At the same time, we must now ensure that social relief via food parcels, soup kitchens and mobilising our communities to grow food. We will start this process tomorrow at our meeting with the premier."IOL