Party has slammed many of the regulations introduced by the National Command Council for the current Level 4 stage of the national lockdown
THE DA has vowed to continue being on the political offensive against the government over measures and regulations aimed at combating the spread of the coronavirus.
The DA leadership was yesterday holding an online discussion on what it described as the growing civil unrest in the country. It slammed many of the regulations introduced by the National Command Council (NCC), led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, for the current Level 4 stage of the national lockdown, including economic relief measures provided for affected businesses.
By Tuesday afternoon 7 220 Covid-19 cases and 138 deaths had been confirmed, with the DA-led Western Cape being the current epicentre with 3 451 infections and 64 deaths.
DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille said the DA had an obligation to hold the government to account even under the Covid-19 disaster declaration, despite calls by the World Health Organization (WHO) for political opponents to abandon their differences and work jointly in fighting the global pandemic.
“We would be a completely useless opposition if we saw our role as being to support everything that the government does. It is absolutely patriotic for us to ask hard questions. The critical question is what is going to have been right three or five weeks or five months from now. The DA must be judged on whether it was asking the right questions,” Zille said.
She pointed out that while the DA had supported the previous 34-day hard lockdown and the new phased approach, the regulations accompanying it were “irrational” as they were as harsh as the hard lockdown and also indefinite.
“It is almost like Level 5 but with no end in sight. You are never going to kill coronavirus in the public and, eventually, a large number of people are going to have to get corona so that we can reach the peak and then go down so that you have immunity in your general population. That is the inevitable course of this virus and no one in any way is going to stop it,” Zille said.
The DA also reiterated its support for those who were challenging the national government over the ban on tobacco.
This comes as Ramaphosa and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are being dragged to court by the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association over the tobacco ban.
British American Tobacco SA had also given the government until Monday morning to revoke the ban or face legal action.
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said: “The point we have made from the beginning is that the only people who benefit from a lockdown ban on tobacco and alcohol is the black market and the illicit trade of these goods and services. If Dlamini-Zuma and (Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim) Patel think those cigarettes are not being smoked and alcohol is not being drunk during this time, frankly, they are not bound in reality.”
He said the products were currently available throughout the country at a premium, causing losses in taxes for the government.
The party further slammed Dlamini-Zuma and Patel for being among ministers who were apparently bypassing Ramaphosa’s directives despite the insistence by the Presidency that the ministers were all announcing collective decisions of the NCC.
Luthuli House has also blasted the singling out of individual ministers over the regulations.
Other measures opposed by the party include the use of the broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) policy as the criteria for support to troubled businesses as a result of the national lockdown.
The Presidency and Cogta did not respond to requests for comment by the close of business.