The Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling for the complete lifting of the lockdown and replaced with sectoral health protocols.

 

 

The party has also urged tobacco companies to take government to court to fight what it calls arbitrary ban on cigarettes.

This was revealed during a discussion on the party’s online coronavirus info channel hosted by its interim leader John Steenhuisen.

This comes as the country awaits details of Level 3 lockdown regulations following the Sunday announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa to move the country to level 3 lockdown on June 1st.

In the video below, President Ramaphosa addresses the nation:

The party’s Head of Policy, Gwen Ngwenya, says sector specific health protocols combined with non-pharmaceutical interventions is what is now needed to be implemented.

“I think in some way, the sectoral health protocols are their own inhibitor to kind of a reckless economic opening. Because it means that only those businesses able to meet them will meet them and also businesses will meet them at variance stages.”

“Some businesses may be able to open up immediately and meet the health protocol and some may need work towards meeting the health protocols before they open. So, I do believe that having these sectorial health protocols will still guarantee a gradual and responsible opening of the economy,”explains Ngwenya.

Ngwenya questioned the credibility of the different alert level stages.

She says there have been so many revisions to the level schedules from what was initially introduced in April.

“We’ve had almost levels within levels. So, Level 4 had various revisions, we know that the country won the battle for e-commerce where it was eventually introduced when initially it wasn’t. There are some revisions that were made in level 4 and similarly seems now there are revision that were made to level 3.”

“So, it’s increasingly becoming a mockery this idea of having the distinct or discreet levels when we almost now have Level 4.1.2 and Level 3 will have its own 3.1.2 and really these levels are starting to lack credibility of what’s driving them,” she adds.

No evidence of smokers being at risk

Its Parliament Chief Whip Natasha Mazzone says there is no scientific evidence that suggests smokers are at more risk of COVID-19 infection.

“This kind of ban is nowhere else in the world except here in South Africa. So, of course South Africans are asking why [and] who’s benefiting from this. There must be something more to the story. There is something more to the story, you are not imagining it.”

“It is bizarre, you should be outraged and you should be putting big pressure on these big corporations to go and fight these battles because as a political party we fight political battles and that’s what we are in court about political issues. But for a company like British-American Tobacco company to be sitting back at the moment and they did threaten to go to court now follow through on your threat do not be afraid of the government,”explains Mazzon.e

Ngwenya attributed the high numbers of infections and deaths in the Western Cape, to high levels of tourism from high risk countries and high number of tests done.

“What matters really, is to look at the proportion of testing as per the population. So, the Western Cape is conducting more tests proportionate to its population size. An easy way that is communicated is to instead of communicating absolute testing number, is to communicate how many tests have been conducted per 1000 or per 100 000, or per million as some do but the point is these two are then comparing apples with apples,”adds Ngwenya.