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FW de Klerk Foundation against lockdown extension

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Eloff argued that it seems logical and responsible to ease the lock-down regulations considerably so that the economy can start recovering.

WITH another lockdown extension anticipated on Thursday, the chairperson of the F.W de Klerk Foundation, Theuns Eloff, says an unfettered lockdown will have dire economic consequences for the country. 

In a wide-ranging piece made publicly available, just hours before President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his R500 billion economic stimulus package, Eloff argued that it seems logical and responsible to ease the lock-down regulations considerably so that the economy can start recovering.

“It is absolutely necessary that the debate on Covid-19 and the lockdown be deepened to include the negative consequences of the present lockdown, including future economically related deaths caused by deepening poverty. It is, finally, very important that President Ramaphosa balances the economically-related deaths and suffering and the health-related deaths before he and his cabinet finally decide on the easing of the lockdown regulations to start the economic recovery – and definitely before he accepts advice to extend the lock-down after 30 April,” Eloff wrote in the note.

He added that even the country’s epidemiologist and chairperson of the ministerial advice committee on Covid-19, Professor Salim Karim recently admitted that the country has already utilised the benefits of the lockdown and we won’t get more benefits from the lockdown. 

“This is a clear indication that we now have to look at easing the lockdown immediately,” he argued further. 

Using another argument by Prof Karim, Eloff said the argument that lockdown bought time for the state. 

“But the major question that arises is the following: if a much higher infection rate and a peak in September is inevitable (irrespective of what we do), why is the argument of its proponents still that the lockdown must remain in place unfettered for the full 35 days and that it may even be extended again? Why is the efficiency of the lockdown then measured in terms of the number of infections and not our preparedness to manage the inevitable peak? If the peak is inevitable, there will never be few enough infections to lift the lockdown (or even relax it) – until the damage to the economy is irreparable.”

Eloff also added his voice against the government’s decision to ban the sale of cigarettes saying by banning them the government is inadvertently aiding the black market while losing billions in taxes. 

“What is the rationale for the stupidity that cigarettes and tobacco products cannot be bought in the same shops and at the same time that food is bought? It means that the state loses billions in tax that could have been used in the fight against Covid-19. Instead of an income for the state, it has resulted in a stronger illegal market. What stupidity is it that a country where the police cannot cope under normal circumstances, neighbourhood watches and community forums are barred from helping to protect life and property in a time of disaster,” Eloff argued.