EFF reps take salary cuts and welcome lockdown extension — but DA says it's a 'mistake'
The EFF has announced that all its public representatives will contribute a third of their salaries to the Covid-19 Solidarity Fund.
The announcement came less than two hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a similar contribution by himself, members of his cabinet, deputy ministers and premiers for the next three months.
Ramaphosa made the announcement while telling the nation that the nationwide lockdown had been extended by two weeks, taking us to the end of April.
The EFF welcomed the extension, but the DA wasn't convinced, saying that Rampahosa had made a mistake in believing that the decision to extend was a “binary choice between health concerns and economic concerns”.
The EFF said: “As part of our contribution to the fight against Covid-19, all EFF public representatives, inclusive of MPs, members of provincial legislatures, and councillors, will contribute a third of our monthly salaries to the Covid-19 Solidarity Fund,” said party spokesperson Vuyani Pambo.
The party welcomed the decision of the national executive and all premiers of contributing a third of their salaries to the fund, and called on all public representatives in all spheres of government — and all employed people with adequate disposal income — to do the same so that the country can assemble enough resources to fight the rapid spread while still safeguarding SA’s fiscal sovereignty.
It also registered opposition to the government asking for loans from “rapacious” international institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, whose loans, it said, will come with irrational and often dangerous conditions.
The EFF welcomed the extension of the lockdown by an additional 14 days as a measure to contain and subsequently eliminate the spread of the coronavirus.
It called upon all South Africans to abide by the lockdown regulations.
“We believe that it should only be a scientific and data based analysis of the spread that should lead to the suspension of the lockdown.
“While we welcome the extension of the lockdown, we are not convinced that government has taken adequate measures to mitigate against the economic and subsistence consequences on ordinary people,” he said.
The party called on the government to impose an interest-free payment holiday for three months for all people who cannot afford to make the monthly payments due to the lockdown.
The DA was critical of Rampahosa's decision to extend the lockdown, labelling it a mistake.
The party said it would have preferred a gradual phasing out of the current lockdown over the coming weeks, as opposed to a continuation of the severe and economically-crippling regulations.
“Our great concern is that President Ramaphosa has justified this extension as if we face a binary choice between health concerns and economic concerns. We believe it is a great mistake to think in terms of lives versus livelihoods.
“This is a false dilemma. Rather, the difficult trade-offs to be made are between lives lost or damaged by Covid-19, and lives lost or damaged by the drastic measures to contain its spread,” said John Steenhuisen.
He said the country had limited resources and the government had to take difficult decisions, taking into account both seen and unseen costs.
“This is the role of government: to make tough choices for the greater good for the greater number, while not forgetting that behind every statistic is a human story,” said Steenhuisen.
Ramaphosa announced SA had recorded 1,934 confirmed cases and 18 deaths as of Thursday.
“Each death resulting from the virus is a tragedy. But so is each death resulting from caged citizens and frustrated law enforcers, and so is each victim of home violence. And each malnourished child. And each newly unemployed South African,” said Steehuisen.