Democratic Alliance (DA) interim leader John Steenhuisen says it is time for South Africans to go back to work and start rebuilding the economy.
This, as the National State of Disaster legislation on which the country’s lockdown has been premised, expires on Saturday.
It is widely expected that President Cyril Ramaphosa will, in the next few days, update the nation on whether the country will move to a lower alert lockdown level following Tuesday’s meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).
Steenhuisen says enough is enough says, “There is general agreement that a second wave is unlikely but not impossible. Either way, we cannot hide from this virus forever while our lives and livelihoods fall apart. We need to learn to live with it, since it will still be with us for many months, perhaps even years, to come.”
“While we should all continue to wear our masks and adhere to safety protocols, we need to pick up the pieces and start to rebuild our shattered economy, which has lost over a trillion rand and three million jobs to this long, irrational, secretive, brutal hard lockdown,” explains Steenhuisen.
The below video explains why the DA took government to court over lockdown in May:
140 days since lockdown
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize earlier this week raised hopes that after over 140 days since level 5 lockdown was declared, the nation may get reprieve from the current restrictions.
“Well, we are preparing submissions. We will need to make certain recommendations on easing some restrictions and the Coronavirus Command Council has to take into account a lot of issues and out of that, then, the President is going to be able to give us a guide as to what we are able to do and so on.”
With the curve finally flattening and fewer people visiting hospitals, political analyst Ivor Sarakinsky says the government has more room to maneouvre. Having lobbied hard the alcohol industry may finally get to open its taps.
“It might be possible to say something along the lines of wine and beer rather than spirits and then you gradually start opening up or you could even go the whole hog with spirits as well as and you just put restraints on restaurants that they can only operate for certain hours.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation this week:
‘Lifting the ban would be premature’
There are no guarantees however with another political analyst Lesiba Teffo saying lifting the ban would be premature.
“I am a village boy. I know what alcohol does in those communities; what it does to those people. Yes, there is a case in relation to job opportunities, monies being raised, families losing income as far as that goes. But at some stage, unpopular decisions have to be taken in order to protect the very people that you lead.”
The alcohol ban and the night curfew reinstated on the 12th of July in response to the surge in infections have taken their toll on the restaurant industry – with protests by owners and workers in the sector being held in recent weeks to implore government to change its mind.
The tobacco industry too will be looking for a change of heart on the cigarette ban, as its efforts so far to overturn it in the courts are still pending.
In terms of churches that were given the go-ahead to open up with a limited number of congregants under level three but did not open their doors, Sarakinsky feels the status quo should remain.
“The rituals are very close in terms of personal contact and there is lots of loud verbal singing in many of these places and it is exactly that which enables the spread of COVID-19.”
He also does not believe that travel across provinces will happen just yet.
“A lot of tourism is for people to travel into far outlying areas and that’s communities that are most at risk in terms of health facilities and recourses.”
Teffo says the worry is that with the easing of restrictions some citizens have tended to behave as though the pandemic no longer exists. He has urged greater effort with regards to messaging.
“The chiefs must play their part they must not only talk to the President when they want to benefit let the politicians let the councillors go out there to convey the message but the councillors themselves are organising parties and you can’t pontificate unless you have the moral authority to do so.”
The DA remains unequivocal about the need for the country to open up.
“There is general agreement that a second wave is unlikely but not impossible. Either way, we cannot hide from this virus forever while our lives and livelihoods fall apart. We need to learn to live with it, since it will still be with us for many months, perhaps even years, to come. While we should all continue to wear our masks and adhere to safety protocols, we need to pick up the pieces and start to rebuild our shattered economy, which has lost over a trillion rand and three million jobs to this long, irrational, secretive, brutally hard lockdown.”