Ramaphosa held a Presidential Imbizo which was broadcast on community radio platforms on Thursday night.
Johannesburg – President Cyril Ramaphosa has used his first engagement with the public in an ‘imbizo’ to discuss his concerns on gender-based violence, concerns around the economy and decisions on lifting the ban on the sale of alcohol.
Ramaphosa held a Presidential Imbizo which was broadcast on community radio platforms on Thursday night. The engagement was meant to allow the public to ask the president questions on the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
He faced questions on the government’s decision to lift the alcohol ban. He said the controversial decision to allow for alcohol to be sold under level 3 of the national lockdown was taken because the economy needed to be re-opened. He said some sectors of the economy had to resume activities to protect livelihoods.
The president acknowledged that the decision had some consequences which he said were regrettable. He said the rise in trauma cases related to alcohol abuse was a concern. He said the country needed to discuss the effects of alcohol abuse and its possible link to violent cases including GBV.
The president said it was not possible to ban alcohol forever as this often led to illegal consumption and trade.
Ramaphosa also addressed the cigarette sales ban, he said the ban would be lifted, but for now, it was still banned.
On the government’s decision to re-open schools, Ramaphosa said this was a calculated decision taken in the context of saving the schooling year. He said discussions on this decision were discussed widely as part of learning to live with the virus. He said some of the infections detected in children and teachers had been found to emanate from communities.
“The issue of opening schools was extensively canvassed. As much as it is a risk, it was felt that it was a calculated risk so we can get some of the children back to school to save the school year and the other grades would come in at a later stage.
“There have been infections of learners and teachers and most of these have been brought from home. Infections have not only been at schools but at offices. It is a virus that we have to learn to live with. We continue to insist on isolation,” Ramaphosa said.
The president also dealt with the concerns around reports that not all citizens were complying with regulations on social gatherings, funerals and wearing masks. He said everyone had to play their part.
“As infections and deaths rise, we should know that we are not the only ones in the world going through this testing moment. We have to change our behaviour and we need to look after ourselves and those we love. It is your own safety and to secure your own life,” Ramaphosa said.
The president said the government was concerned about rising unemployment and the economy contracting. He said there were plans to boost growth through infrastructure and investment programmes with the hope of creating jobs.