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Parties back lockdown decision

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Political parties have backed the decision of President Cyril Ramaphosa to ease lockdown restrictions with others calling for the complete scrapping of the national State of Disaster.

President Cyril Ramaphosa. File image

POLITICAL parties have backed the decision of President Cyril Ramaphosa to ease lockdown restrictions with others calling for the complete scrapping of the national State of Disaster.

Following several weeks of speculation that the move to Level 1 of the lockdown was imminent and Health Minister Dr Zweli last week saying that the country would have to move to level 1 and get closer to normal activities, Ramaphosa announced the easing of further restrictions.

The move has been hailed as the correct step in the right direction by parties keen to see South Africa’s flailing economy getting a jumpstart after it had been ravaged by the outbreak of the deadly virus which had forced the government to impose a stringent nationwide lockdown in March.

The ANC’s national spokesperson Pule Mabe said that the lifting of further restrictions on economic and social life, where it was reasonably safe to do so, should be commended.

“A permanent lockdown is neither desirable nor sustainable. As we move forward, we must be guided by the need to save lives and to preserve livelihoods. We remain cautiously optimistic that the decline in infection rates will be sustained and that no resurgence of infections will occur if we maintain the same vigilance and comply with all measures.

“The gradual and cautious easing of some restrictions will ensure that we do not experience a sudden upsurge. We are encouraged by the commitment of the government to keep increasing coronavirus testing,” Mabe said.

He added that the reopening of the country to international travel subject to strict precautionary measures will go a long way in resuscitating the tourism sector.

“The economy has been badly hurt as a result of Covid-19. The time to rebuild our battered economy must proceed with speed,” said Mabe.

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said that the move to level one had come five months late and that Ramapphosa was to blame for the socio economic devastation that the country had suffered.

He said that Ramaphosa and his government should be held to account for the avoidable socio-economic devastation which is the net impact of lockdown, as most of the economy should have been fully opened five months ago when his party first called for it.

“It was already clear by mid-April that a severe, prolonged lockdown would have devastating socio-economic consequences, including thousands of excess deaths to other diseases, millions of livelihoods lost, millions of households plunged deeper into poverty, thousands of businesses destroyed, widening inequality, and billions of rands of tax revenue lost, revenue which should have been pulling people out of poverty,”said Steenhuisen.

IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said they welcome the easing of the restrictions and called on the government to use this opportunity to better prepare the country’s health system.

“This announcement is certainly a welcome relief for the recovery of our economy, as we ramp up our efforts to restore the many losses experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Trade union Cosatu said that the move to alert level one would help further reopen the economy, but said that this should be done in a responsible manner that avoids a surge in infections.

“We remain concerned about the rush to prematurely limit various health and safety measures. This risks exposing us to a second wave, we need to learn to live with the health and safety measures as a part of living with the new normal.

“We note the limited reopening of international borders. This will be a welcome boost for the struggling tourism industry; however, it is critical for the government and the banks to provide real and urgent economic relief for the tourism sector,” said Cosatu spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla.