DA 'welcomes' but EFF 'rejects' Ramaphosa's level 3 announcement
The official opposition, the DA, has welcomed government's announcement that the country will move to Covid-19 alert level three as of June 1, albeit insisting it came six weeks “too late”.
This is while SA's third biggest political party in parliament, the EFF, has rejected the move, calling it one that is tantamount to no lockdown at all.
The parties were reacting to President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement on Sunday night that most of the economy will reopen from June 1.
Ramaphosa also said several restrictions on the movement of people would be lifted, and the sale of certain products, such as alcohol, would be allowed again.
While the DA said it was vindicated after weeks of calls for the economy to be reopened, the EFF said government was no longer relying on scientific data when making decisions about the Covid -19 pandemic.
DA leader John Steenhusien said: “The DA welcomes the announcement by the president that large swathes of the economy will be opened up, subject to hygiene, mask and distancing protocols, as we move to alert level three of the lockdown on June 1.”
“This is in line with what the DA has called for, repeatedly, for the past month.”
EFF national spokesperson Vuyani Pambo said Ramaphosa had effectively resigned from the mission to save lives by announcing the move to level three.
According to the EFF, the decision to move down an alert level only stood to benefit big business, while the poor would be the casualties of the virus.
Pambo said government was “reckless” for taking this decision against the World Health Organisation's advice that the country was not ready to ease the lockdown.
“In essence, the opening of the economy and sale of alcohol stood as significant announcements.
“These alone have essentially ended the lockdown, which sought to ensure social distancing, flatten the curve, prepare the healthcare system and save lives.
“Government’s decision to uplift the lockdown regulations happens on no sound scientific and epidemiological basis. The EFF rejects, with deep sadness, what is effectively the ending of the Covid-19 lockdown.”
The DA insisted reopening the economy was long overdue.
For the past month and a half, South Africans have had to sit at home and watch everything they had built up fall apartJohn Steenhuisen
Steenhuisen said the country must move with speed to salvage what can be resuscitated from sectors of the economy that have suffered because of lockdown.
In the first place, said Steenhuisen, there was never a need for government to extend the hard lockdown from the initial 21 days.
The extension had effectively caused irreparable damage to parts of the economy, he said.
“Our economy could barely withstand the initial three weeks. This extension has come at an enormous cost to millions, and there is very little to show for it in return,” said Steenhuisen.
“For the past month and a half, South Africans have had to sit at home and watch everything they had built up fall apart.
“Businesses went bust, employees went unpaid, rents accumulated, home loan payments were missed and hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs.”
Steenhuisen said the lockdown was costing the country R13-billion daily.
To this end, he was baffled that reopening the economy would only come into effect a full week after its declaration by Ramaphosa, thus causing more damage.