The oldest member of Parliament and former IFP leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, disagrees with those who are calling for the lockdown to be lifted.

The 91-year-old politician was addressing a small gathering in Ulundi in northern KwaZulu-Natal, launching a food relief programme for the Zululand District Municipality.

Buthelezi says people calling for the lift of the lockdown should think of those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19.

“There are many among us at much higher risk because of age, compromised immune system or underlying illness. It is deeply irresponsible for healthy young leaders to call for the lifting of lockdown when it is the elderly, the vulnerable and the weak who will die.”

Meanwhile, the Zululand District Municipality introduced a R1 000 food voucher from a retail chain that will be given to 5 000 needy families in the district. The recipients will be identified by councilors and traditional leaders in the area.

Buthelezi says the issuing of vouchers is a way to restore people’s dignity.

“One of the biggest problems experienced by relief programmes right now is the problem of corruption. We have seen in news reports and we have heard from our leaders that when food parcels are handed out, chaos tends to ensue. Unfortunately, those who don’t qualify still try their luck and those who have already received food parcels rejoin the queue to get another one. This creates animosity and unfortunately, those who genuinely need the assistance come away with nothing.”

In the video below, Mangosuthu Buthelezi says that he disagrees with calls to lift the lockdown:

Parties challenge lockdown regulations

On Friday, the Democratic Alliance (DA), Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) and lobby group AfriForum announced intentions to file court papers over a number of issues, including forcing the government to lift the lockdown entirely to allow full economic activity to start and the constitutionality of aspects of the Disaster Management Act.

This as President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged that government will continue to face legal challenges in the way it’s dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, but added that sacrifices must be made.

“The lockdown has disrupted people’s lives. There are quite a number of people, organisations who do feel aggrieved and we did say right from the beginning that all of us will be required to make some sacrifices as we deal with this health challenge, which has also turned out to be an economic challenge. Our constitution and our legal system allow anyone who is aggrieved to have the right to approach the courts and a number of people have done so and even I, as president, could never stand in the way of anybody who wants to challenge what we have put in place,” Ramaphosa said.

Political analyst Ongama Mtimka said on Friday that the DA’s decision to take the government to court after questioning the rationality of some lockdown regulations is in bad faith.

Mtimka said the DA did not appreciate the unique circumstances in which COVID-19 has placed the country in.

However, DA interim leader, John Steenhuisen, defended the party’s decision and said that these restrictions are in place due to the lack of oversight on the decisions taken by the National Command Council during the State of Disaster.

His party has called for an immediate easing of the national lockdown, saying it will force government to take the hard decisions and that this entails via the courts.

“It is our opinion that is shared by many South Africans that all three of these decisions should be immediately reversed as there are no rational justifications for a military, enforced curfew, a restriction on e-commerce business and a limited three-hour window for exercise. But it must also be said that these irrational decisions are taken by the National Command Council because they are acting with no checks and balances. The State of Disaster, which we are currently under, is governed by the Disaster Management Act, and it makes zero provision for Parliamentary oversight which means that the secretive National Command Council actually answers to no one,” said Steenhuisen.

In the video below, John Steenhuisen explains the DA’s decision to challenge the lockdown in court: