President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Friday chair a virtual meeting of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) that will discuss the prospect of moving most of South Africa to COVID-19 Alert Level 3.
In his address to the nation on Wednesday, the President indicated that the country could implement Level 3 before the end of the month. However, he said some badly affected areas may still require stricter levels of lockdown.
Ramaphosa also acknowledged the heavy toll that the coronavirus lockdown is having on the lives of ordinary South Africans, emphasising that the lockdown was necessary to prevent an even larger number of infections and deaths.
The meeting which will include government, labour, community and business constituencies will be the start of widespread consultation between government and various sectors of society and the economy on the more extensive reopening of the economy and the lifting of restrictions on movement.
Below is the speech President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered on Wednesday:
Reopening the economy
Economist Dawie Roodt says the government should rapidly reprioritise the reopening of the economy as unemployment and poverty could cause more damage to the country than the coronavirus pandemic.
He says the National Coronavirus Command Council, which is the government’s main decision-making body, is not acting in the best interest of the people.
Roodt says, “We are totally mismanaging the economy at the moment. I’ve done some calculations and I’m pretty sure that more people will die because of poverty than people that will die because of this virus. What we are currently doing we are putting the economy into lockdown, it will increase poverty, it will increase unemployment and the sooner we open up this economy the better. We have certain ministers that all of a sudden has got a lot of power and they simply do not want to let go.”
Business Unity South Africa responds to the President’s speech:
Political parties react to Ramaphosa’s address
Reacting to President Wednesday night’s announcement on the nationwide lockdown, some political parties expressed confusion.
The Democratic Alliance’s Interim leader, John Steenhuisen says, “We have no idea what is going to be the next move. I think this is really concerning for South Africans. It looks like we on this stage till end of May and continues to be in this economy.”
The Freedom Front Plus Leader Dr. Pieter Groenewald says, “South Africa must ensure that we unlock the economy or else the price that we going to pay will be more than the price of lives that will die out of the COV-19 virus.”
The African Transformation Movement National Executive Committee member, Sibusiso Mncwabe says, “We are a little bit concerned that it is not clear when the country is really moving fully to stage three because seemingly we have to wait till the end of May.”
The DA, FF Plus and lobby group AfriForum announce intentions to file court papers over a number of issues including forcing the government to lift the lockdown entirely to allow full economic activity to start and the constitutionality of aspects of the Disaster Management Act.
AfriForum says government has lost focus in the fight against the coronavirus:
President Ramaphosa says aggrieved parties have the constitutional right to take legal action against government for its national lockdown regulations. He says he can’t prevent anyone from approaching the country’s courts.
Speaking in the Eastern Cape during a visit to the Nelson Mandela Bay metro as part of his provincial progress monitoring progress, on the fight against COVID-19, Ramaphosa said the lockdown had required much sacrifice from South Africans.
INFOGRAPHIC: Level 3 lockdown: