'It's too late!' John Steenhuisen slams Ramaphosa over easing of regulations
Opposition parties divided over government's attempt to kickstart economy
DA leader John Steenhuisen says the latest relaxation of lockdown regulations by President Cyril Ramaphosa has come too late to save millions of jobs.
Steenhuisen was reacting to Ramaphosa's announcement on Wednesday night of the reopening of hair salons, cinemas, casinos and restaurants for sit-down meals.
He said Ramaphosa seems to have finally realised how devastating the lockdown has been for ordinary South Africans.
“It is unclear at which level of the lockdown we now find ourselves – not that it makes much difference, as the lockdown is now de facto ended. But this ending comes too late to save thousands of businesses and millions of jobs,” he said.
Steenhuisen said it was the world's longest lockdown, not Covid-19 itself, that was killing the economy and causing misery for millions of South Africans.
“And what do we have to show for it? Nothing, is the short answer. The lockdown has only delayed the peak of the spike by a couple of weeks. The president conceded as much, saying infections are growing exponentially,” he said.
The IFP also criticised Ramaphosa - but for different reasons.
In a statement, IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the reopening was based on political considerations and pending court challenges, instead of epidemiological data and medical facts.
“The effects coupled with the levels of uncertainty, deaths and further spreading of Covid-19 due to lockdown alert level 3 have not been fully monitored and therefore this announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa is poorly timed and ill-considered,” said Hlengwa.
“It is unfortunate that our country must acknowledge and recognise that we are fighting parallel crises: a global pandemic, an economic recession and the scourge of heinous acts of violence committed against women and children.”
He said the lifting of the restrictions was premature.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said he welcomed the balancing act Ramaphosa was applying.
“That’s why I agree that each individual must be responsible for his or her life. Lack of discipline has cost this country. We need to change this behaviour,” said Holomisa.