President Cyril Ramaphosa consulting political parties on Covid-19 lockdown

20 May 2020 - 11:02 By S'thembile Cele
President Cyril Ramaphosa is on Wednesday meeting (virtually) with political parties to discuss the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is on Wednesday meeting (virtually) with political parties to discuss the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Image: Esa Alexander

President Cyril Ramaphosa will once again take political party leaders into his confidence before a move to lockdown level 3 for most parts of the country, which is expected to happen next month.

The presidency on Wednesday said Ramaphosa would be meeting the leaders – virtually - in the third consultative meeting since the onset of the lockdown, which is on day 55.

“The president has held a series of meetings and consultations with leaders across various sectors of society since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that the national effort to combat the crisis is inclusive and enjoys the support of all stakeholder groups,” the statement reads.

The meeting comes a week after the official opposition, the DA, opted to take a legal route to challenge the government on some of the regulations penned over the past few weeks.

Among some of the contentious regulations for the party is the designated exercise time of  6am-9am as well as the 8pm-5am curfew.

The party is also calling for an end to the country’s hard lockdown, saying it has already put the ailing economy on life support.

The DA strongly opposed the use of BBBEE compliance as a requirement in some departments for access to Covid-19 relief funds which form part of the economic stimulus package announced by Ramaphosa last month.

Among the issues that are likely to be on the table during Wednesday's meeting are concerns around:

  • the government’s strategy for public transport,
  • the tobacco ban, and
  • the decision for grades 7 and 12 to go back to school on June 1 as announced on Tuesday by the minister for basic education Angie Motshekga.

The ACDP's Steven Swart recently told the Sunday Times that the ban on tobacco products was costing the country.

“While the ACDP appreciates the health risks associated with the usage of tobacco products, the only persons to benefit from the present ban are the crime syndicates involved in the illicit sale of tobacco products at highly inflated prices. This has in the past cost the financially hard-pressed fiscus millions of rands in sin tax revenue over the years, which is set to increase dramatically with this ban.

"The ACDP supports the opening of businesses which can adhere to strict health protocols and this approach applies to the sale of tobacco products,” Swart said.

Two weeks ago, SA Revenue Service commissioner Edward Kieswetter told MPs that the state's coffers were taking a huge knock from reduced economic activity, the number of businesses that were unlikely to survive Covid-19, and the rapid rise of illicit and criminal economic activities, especially since the banning of tobacco and alcohol.