President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africans must be prepared for a new reality in which the fight against COVID-19 becomes part of citizens’ daily existence, for the coming year or more.
In his weekly letter to the nation, Ramaphosa says with many more people gradually going to work during Level 4, there will be an inevitable increase in infection numbers as well as demands on the health care sector.
But, contrary to that, the pressure is mounting for him to reopen the country’s economy and help save jobs.
All eyes are on President Ramaphosa to pave a way forward on the country’s next step after the introduction of Level 4 nationwide lockdown over a week ago.
Earlier in the week, the president told South Africans that he is aware that the country’s economy is being battered due to the lockdown.
“The next challenge is the economic challenge. COVID-19 has brought about a total destruction of our economy. Our economy, as we speak now, is under a great deal of stress and challenge. We now need to collectively respond to how we going to rebuild and reposition that economy.”
In the video below, President Cyril Ramaphosa says SA’s economy has been negatively affected by COVID-19:
However, there is a clear push-back to the prolonged lockdown period.
South African Federation of Trade Unions General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says the government needs to change its mindset and attitude when looking for economic solutions.
“We are seeing no plan to make sure that we turn this crisis into an opportunity in South Africa. We build more cement factories at this moment; we build more brick factories and we make sure that water is available and in particular areas that are originally marginalised and that’s why we are calling for a change in attitude.”
President Ramaphosa seems he will not bow down to pressure. He says greater effort by government, employers, academic institutions and individuals will be required to manage COVID-19 infections.
In his weekly letter released on Monday, Ramaphosa says easing the lockdown restrictions must not result in careless behaviour by individuals or reckless practices by businesses keen to resume activity at the cost of human health.
Political Analyst Professor Dirk Kotze says government is caught between many conflicting interests whilst it is easier for the Democratic Alliance to call for a lifting of the lockdown.
“I think all of this is in the different interests that are dominant within the political parties and we know that the DA is traditionally very close to the private sector and that is why it will explain why they have a strong view on this and the difference between government and opposition parties. Government has to balance interests and government has to find a balance between different interests.”
Until such a time, where the National Command Council, led by Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Doctor Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma meets, alongside the president – South Africa continues to be under the Level 4 of the nationwide lockdown.
SA is currently on Level 4 lockdown”
South Africa currently has 10 652 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 206 deaths and 4357 recoveries.
Below is an infographic on the latest numbers in South Africa: