Parties react to adjusted coronavirus lockdown regulations

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Congress of the People (COPE) spokesperson Dennis Bloem lashed out at President Cyril Ramaphosa for not consulting opposition parties on government’s efforts to combat the coronavirus and the adjustments to the country’s regulations.

On Tuesday, Ramaphosa announced the easing of the coronavirus lockdown regulations in an address to South Africa.

Ramaphosa announced Cabinet’s intention to lift the National State of Disaster and invited South Africans to make submissions on the new draft regulations before April 16, 2022.

Ramaphosa says the wearing of masks is no longer necessary when outdoors. Indoor and outdoor gatherings can be up to 50 percent of the venue’s capacity provided that proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours has been acquired from attendees.

The maximum number of people allowed to attend a funeral will increase from 100 to 200.

Bloem says Ramaphosa’s lack of consultation has turned lawmakers into spectators.

“The President is no more consulting opposition parties when it comes to decisions on this deadly virus called COVID-19 and it makes a mockery of this thing. The President has turned us, now, into spectators and we are lawmakers. It can’t be that the President just addresses the nation and we must also just hear what the President is saying,” says Bloem.

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The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) called for the amendment of the Disaster Management Act to allow the Executive to be held accountable.

The party welcomed the government’s decision to lift the National State of Disaster once the consultation process with the public has been finalised.

IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa says, “The Disaster Management Act leaves the executive to its own devices without any checks and balances in so far as the regulations that they make in managing any disaster and the fact that the checks and balances have excluded Parliament is a problem and that the courts themselves have been very reluctant to enter into this terrain when approached on matters is the clearest indication to date that the Disaster Management Act is dangerous if it becomes a runaway train in that it becomes the sole preserve of the executive.”

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The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) accused Ramaphosa of abusing the powers that accompany the National State of Disaster.

The party argued that the impact of the coronavirus has subsided in the country and that regulations must also be adjusted to suit the threat the pandemic poses.

EFF’s Sinawo Tambo says the government’s vagueness in ending the State of Disaster is an indication of its intention to continue granting it control over the lives of South Africans.

Tambo further accused the government of controlling the political space and the ability of South Africans to protest.

“There’s simply an uncontrollable attachment to the power that has come in terms of not being held accountable during the COVID-19 pandemic and Cyril Ramaphosa seems to be struggling to let go of the powers that come with the state of disaster in the country. So he needs to start accustoming himself with the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided in terms of its impact in society as such regulations must also be… Even the ambiguity and this vagueness that comes with ending the state of the disaster is announced tells us that this government has become so happy that it can limit gatherings and control the political space by limiting gatherings and limiting people who can attend to protest,” says Tambo.

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The African National Congress (ANC) welcomed the easing of lockdown regulations which include an increased number of people at public gatherings.

Ramaphosa says, “We welcome the easing of some of these stringent measures that government had previously imposed allowing gatherings to now take place albeit with the limited numbers and where people can prove that there is some proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 testing what that does is that it also begins to add to our own government Vuma programme of encouraging our people to vaccinate because the message that came out clearly today is that if more and more of our people are vaccinated we will be able to ultimately get off the lockdown regulations that we are having to endure.”

United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa says there is no need for Ramaphosa to keep the country on Alert Level One Lockdown.

Holomisa says as much as he welcomes the relaxation of the restrictions, he would have been happier to see all the lockdown regulations lifted.

“We have taken note of the government’s tactical withdrawal from their own position of being rigid by not listening to people until we threaten to go to court in order for this government to move forward. Thanks for removing the masks. You would recall that I also said the mask must fall, at least people must breathe the fresh air on the streets. But if I was the President I would have said this nonsense must be lifted with immediate effect. If the pandemic comes back, on the advice from scientists and doctors we will bring back, there’s no need for regulations for that.” says Holomisa.

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