The display of unity among opposition parties when the lockdown was initially announced is fast dissipating. Just a week into Level 4, parties are openly at loggerheads with each other and the National Command Council.
Some want the lockdown fully suspended, while others are calling for a return to the more stringent Level 5.
A deepening economic crisis and a growing death toll are two realities behind the division among political leaders.
The ANC government is looking at a draft of a Post COVID-19 Economic Reconstruction, Growth and Transformation Plan, while the official opposition wants President Cyril Ramaphosa to end what it calls a crisis, immediately
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen says the real tragedy is no longer COVID-19, but the lockdown.
“The real tragedy playing out here is no longer the coronavirus, but the lockdown itself because this lockdown is going to cost many more lives than it can save. This is a hard truth to speak and an even harder truth to hear. We have to end the lockdown crisis and we have to end it now. ”
🗞️ | Today in a national adpoldress, DA Leader, @jsteenhuisen, made a call for the ANC government to end the national lockdown, and the economic crisis it is creating.
— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) May 8, 2020
Steenhuisen says the lockdown will cost more lives than the virus:
Others want the lockdown to be eased further. Freedom Front Plus leader, Pieter Groenewald, says the country cannot continue under the Level 4 lockdown.
“South Africa cannot continue on a Level 4 lockdown. The FF+ is of the opinion that there should be a differentiated approach as far as the levels are concerned. There are certain districts and areas which have no infections; therefore we can afford to go to Level one.”
The Economic Freedom Fights (EFF) has called on the government to not succumb to these pressures and put the lives of South Africans first. Party Treasurer General, Omphile Maotwe, says this is because the country has seen a big increase in cases in the past few days.
“For the past few days, we have seen an increase in more than 200 cases. This is really concerning and we call on government to strengthen and tighten the rules and regulations of the lockdown. It was premature of government to loosen the regulations to the point that we are now at Level 4.”
IFP Spokesperson, Mkhululeko Hlengwa, says the party understands the challenges posed by COVID-19, but that does not mean that South Africans have to suffer.
“We fully understand the challenges and magnitude of the challenges to the economy and South Africans in particular. However, that does not mean that we have to suffer the lives of South Africans at the altar of economic expedience. It would be reckless and irresponsible to have a rapid and hurried approach towards the phased in approach of the lockdown. Serious decisions have to come in the next week in whether stage four has achieved the desired outcome.”
COPE Spokersperson, Dennis Bloem, says the party will not call for the suspension of the lockdown.
“We are not populists we will not call for the suspension of the lockdown. We still support President Cyril Ramaphosa and we call on all those who say the lockdown must be suspended to change their minds. We can see what is happening in the country today, many people are dying and many people are infected and affected.”
The debate comes amid government’s continues to search for ways to save lives and an ailing economy.
In the video below, political parties are at loggerheads over the Level 4 lockdown:
Below is an infographic on the first week of the Level 4 lockdown: