DA leader John Steenhuisen has termed Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech as vague and elusive.
On Wednesday night, following three weeks of disconcerting silence, President Ramaphosa addressed a restless nation on government’s coronavirus battle plan. The president reiterated that the lockdown, although potentially catastrophic for the nation’s socioeconomic prospects, had been vital in staving off mass infections and subsequent deaths.
Additionally, Ramaphosa noted that the lockdown had afforded the nation’s healthcare systems a window of opportunity for adequate preparation.
During the president’s speech, which touched on both medical and social relief efforts, it was revealed that some regions could expect to enter Level 3 lockdown “at the end of May”. Government’s risk-adjusted lockdown approach will only allow for the lightening of restrictions in regions with manageable caseloads.
This is bad news for the Western Cape, which has recorded more COVID-19 cases than all other provinces combined. Local government, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has, however, noted that the province’s health resources remained primed to deal with the inevitable peak and that thorough, targeted testing protocols were directly related to the burgeoning caseload.
The Eastern Cape may also be stuck on Level 4; while the province’s caseload only accounts for 12.7% of the national total, its overburdened healthcare systems, especially in rural areas, have been noted as a serious cause for concern.
As the nation awaits clarity from the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), criticism of government’s lockdown, and the overbearing regulations which accompany the Disaster Management Act, continues to grow.
“President Ramaphosa is attempting to defend the indefensible. This lockdown has cost more lives than it has saved. Millions of jobs and lives have been destroyed.
Ramaphosa admitted in his speech that many regulations are irrational, yet did not end them. He continues to play on people’s fears.”
Steenhuisen added that government should adopt a strategy which was “based on facts, not fear”, reiterating that COVID-19 could not be eliminated and that the infection’s peak would inevitably arrive in the coming months.
The DA leader added that while the initial lockdown period was reasonable and justified, a prolonged period of economic inactivity and restrictive social freedoms would ultimately only serve to worsen South Africa’s position. Steenhuisen said:
“To lockdown hard and fast was the easy part. It required no real leadership, analysis or courage. The hard part, that requires brave leadership and honest analysis is to know when to end the lockdown. The DA repeats our warning that if government doesn’t end this lockdown, the people will end it for them.”
Additional report from Thesouthafrican.