Political parties have mostly welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that the country remains on Level 1 lockdown.

Many believe that this decision is pragmatic as it considers the country’s battered economy and the livelihood of South Africans.

However, some parties, like the ACDP and ATM, have rejected the President’s announcement that South Africa is considering the introduction of mandatory vaccinations.

ANC spokesperson, Dakota Legoete says the President’s decision was well thought out. “What is suggested to all of us is that the President and the committee were considerate in their decision to appreciate the fact that the economy of South Africa comes first. The interest of South Africa comes first and as the ANC we welcome that particular position because it’s a good gesture.”

DA leader, John Steenhuisen supports the decision to keep the country open. “It’s very gratifying to see government moving away from using lockdowns and liquor bans and bans on beaches etc. I think it’s a lot more of a response and certainly a lot that we can associate with. I think it is the right response and we agree with the president around the irrationality of travel restrictions that have been implemented against South Africa.”

EFF chair, Veronica Mente says people should continue adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols. “There is actually no reason for anyone to be saying anything right now because we’ve just come out of elections, all of us had gatherings and nothing was untoward or nothing was actually fearful during those times. Therefore people of South Africa are now almost getting the message of vaccination and are vaccinating, keeping up with the regulations of Covid in terms of washing hands, keeping safe, sanitizing and wearing masks.”

IFP spokesperson, Mkhuleko Hlengwa has called on South Africans to follow COVID protocols. “This was a pragmatic outlook which is rational and responsive under the circumstances so that all the variables can be discussed. We are continuing to call on South Africans to exercise the maximum discipline of adhering to the preventative protocols which are in place to push back on this virus.”

FF Plus’s Wouter Wessels says the decision to sustain livelihoods is well received. “We welcome the fact that the president did not announce any further restrictions. That is good because it’s always been about balancing saving lives and protecting livelihoods. At this stage, the risks to livelihoods are also threatening lives just as much as COVID-19.”

UDM’s Bantu Holomisa says parliament should be kept abreast of developments and decisions regarding COVID-19 regulations, “We support any plan to save the lives and economy of this country. However, I would suggest that parliament should not be left out in this pandemic in the sense that we don’t get full briefings. There’s a lack of transparency. So he needs to work with parliament.”

Mandatory vaccinations

ATM leader, Vuyo Zungula is opposed to mandatory vaccinations. He says, “We appreciate the fact that he has not locked down the country because it has been proven that lockdown is not sustainable and it can’t be that more than 600 days after the first lockdown, we only have one instrument to respond to COVID-19 which is the lockdown. We, as the ATM, want to caution the President that he cannot be pushing for mandatory vaccines because a vaccination is a constitutional right for each and every person what they let in their body.”

ACDP president, Rev Kenneth Meshoe says they are not for forced vaccinations. “The only thing I welcome from what the president said is that he did not take us to alert level 2 and also that inter travel has not been suspended or banned. In general I’m very disappointed to hear the president somersaulting in his approach because last year he made a clear promise that nobody will be forced to vaccinate. Now he’s talking about mandatory vaccination without saying the reasons for his changing position, without saying I was wrong, I apologize for being wrong, so the ACDP does not agree with mandatory vaccinations.”