The Democratic Alliance has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Sunday night that South Africa will move to coronavirus (Covid-19) level 3 on June 1, opening up large parts of the economy, subject to hygiene, face mask, and physical distancing protocols.
“This is in line with what the DA has called for, repeatedly, for the past month,” DA leader John Steenhuisen said in a statement.
“While it is critical that we now save what can be saved in our economy, it must be said that by the time alert level 3 comes into effect in a week’s time, it will be a full six weeks too late,” he said.
There was no rational justification to extend the hard lockdown beyond the initial three weeks, and this extension had now caused irreparable damage to the economy. The resulting hardship and suffering – and ultimately the premature deaths of South African citizens due to this – could have been largely avoidable.
“South Africa has now entered its ninth week of hard lockdown, which makes ours the second-longest lockdown in the world, after only Italy. By 1 June, we will have surpassed Italy. 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,” Steenhuisen said.
In another statement, Inkatha Freedom Party national spokesman Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the IFP remained “cautious of the very difficult announcement” made by Ramaphosa.
“While we welcome the gradual reopening of the economy, this decision by the National Coronavirus Command Council requires exceptional attention to detail and careful consideration for the lives and livelihoods of South Africans,” Hlengwa said.
Government’s efforts to date had been commendable, despite a few hiccups during the 59 days of the nationwide lockdown. However, the transition to level 3, “while premature”, would require the full cooperation of all sectors of society.
“At this juncture in our fight against the spread of Covid-19 the responsibility now shifts to each and every South African to take extraordinary precautionary measures when not at home.
The IFP welcomed Ramaphosa’s announcement on increasing healthcare and economic relief efforts in the identified hotspot metros in the country.
“We call on government to expedite efforts in civic education to equip all South Africans with the necessary information and tools on how to stay safe during this time as learners and students gradually return to school,” Hlengwa said.