Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has lashed out at President Cyril Ramaphosa and the African National Congress (ANC) – led government over how it is handling the reopening of the economy amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

More sectors are set to reopen under Level-3 of the lockdown which starts on Monday. This includes religious institutions and alcohol retail outlets, subject to strict restrictions.

Malema has appealed to church leaders during a virtual media conference not to reopen.

“We, as the EFF, fully respect the right of religious institutions to gather and worship in common spaces. We, however, appeal to all religious leaders to exercise this right with maximum caution and respect of life. Religious leaders who care about the wellbeing of their people should not rush into religious gatherings because this will compromise the health of their members and religious leaders know that religious rights can be exercised without gatherings of many people.”

Malema says religious leaders should show restraint.

“I want to really make a plea to religious leaders do not open your places to look at what the church did in Bloemfontein, we call upon the caring leaders of religion. Our people can still stay at home; our leaders can still reach out to our people through different methods.”

The Zion Christian Church has announced that it will not resume services under alert Level-3 of the nationwide lockdown. In a statement, ZCC Bishop BE Lekganyane says it is not safe to resume services.

Sale of alcohol

Malema says there is no rationale for the sale of alcohol to resume under Level-3. The sale of alcohol is expected to be restricted to certain days. There has been criticism over the decision to allow for the sale of alcohol while cigarette sales are still banned.

Malema has told a virtual media conference that the sale of alcohol for consumption at home will increase incidents of gender-based violence and community unrest. “You cannot keep on banning cigarettes and justify alcohol. You can buy alcohol and go and drink at home, you effectively are going to turn our homes into clubs. There will not be peace the abuse levels are going to increase the levels of intolerance by neighbours is going to increase you have just sent a mess into communities.”

Repossession of property

Malema has also called for a moratorium of 12 months on house and car repossessions by private banks amid the coronavirus pandemic. He says people should not have their possessions repossessed amid rising unemployment under the nationwide lockdown.

“We call for a moratorium of 12 months on the house and car repossessions by private banks because many people are going to lose their jobs and should not be condemned to absolute poverty and homelessness because of a pandemic that they did not create. We demand that banks must be prevented from house repossessions because unemployment will soon exit 50 percent and it cannot be justifiable that during a crisis, banks repossess houses and cars of retrenched workers. “

He also claims Ramaphosa is being led by his allegiance to those who funded his CR17 campaign.

“You are talking about opening the economy.  You close the restaurants and you open churches, what is the contribution of the church into the economy. The restaurants practice social distancing even without COVID-19 but also in the restaurants hygiene is number one because it’s compulsory. Why do you close restaurants because they are not owned by the Oppenheimers, the Ruperts, you only open sectors that are owned by people who contributed money into CR17.”

Elections

The EFF has proposed that the 2021 Local Government Elections be postponed to 2024 and be held with Provincial and National Elections. “The EFF will make policy and legislative submissions to Parliament which will seek to combine Local Government with the Provincial and National Elections so that South Africa transits into a common election system. If our proposal is accepted, the 2021 Local Government Elections must be postponed to 2024 and held together with the Provincial and National Elections. In our proposal we will articulate that all dysfunctional municipalities under administration must go for elections in 2021 for a term that will finish with the rest in 2024.”

Below is the full briefing in text and video: 

 

South Africa has recorded 25 937 coronavirus cases and 552 related deaths. Below are the latest statistics :

 

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