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Political parties react to extension of lockdown


‘We are in this war together and should unite all the people of South Africa in the fight against the rapid spread of Covid-19’

FOLLOWING the address by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday evening announcing the extension of the 21-day national lockdown by 14 days, the EFF said they welcomed the decision as a measure to contain the spread of Covid-19.

In a statement, the EFF called on all South Africans to abide by all the lockdown regulations until the spread of the virus had been contained and the risk of further infections eliminated.

However, the party said that only a scientific and data-based analysis of the spread should lead to the suspension of the lockdown.

Turning to the economic implications of the extended lockdown, the EFF said: “Whilst we welcome the extension of the lockdown, we are not convinced that the government has taken adequate measures to mitigate against the economic and subsistence consequences on ordinary people.

“We call on the government to impose an interest-free payment holiday for three months for all people who cannot afford to make the monthly payments due to the lockdown.”

According to the EFF, the president and the Covid-19 Command Council were tip-toeing around the financial services sector and were afraid to provide decisive and clear direction that will insulate South Africans from the economic danger of further exclusion and repossession of their vehicles, businesses and homes.

“This points to the reality that the financial services sector, particularly banks, have disproportionate political control of the elected government,” the party declared.

The EFF called on the government to immediately place a moratorium on all forms of repossessions by banks and all creditors.

“We call for a complete end to evictions from properties and land occupied for residential purposes. We call for a moratorium of lease cancellations of small and medium businesses that had lease agreements with property companies, particularly malls.”

It called for a humane system that does not inflict further suffering on South Africans.

The EFF also cautioned local authorities against politicising the distribution of basic services to communities.

“No government official or public representative should be allowed to distribute food parcels, personal protective equipment (PPE) and all other essentials in political party regalia because the war against Covid-19 should not be turned into partisan political football,” it said.

The party approved of the decision of the executive and all premiers to contribute a third of their salaries to the coronavirus Solidarity Fund for three months.

“The party is calling on all public representatives in all spheres of government and all employed people with adequate disposable income to do the same so that we assemble enough resources to fight the rapid spread whilst still safeguarding South Africa’s fiscal sovereignty,” it said.

“The crisis of Covid-19 should never lead to the South African government asking for loans from rapacious international institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), whose loans will come with irrational and often dangerous conditions.”

The party pledged that all EFF public representatives, inclusive of Members of Parliament, Members of Provincial Legislatures and councillors, would contribute a third of their monthly salaries to the Covid-19 Solidarity Fund.

“In this regard, the mandatory party levy deducted from our public representatives will not be deducted in the period where we will be contributing a third of our salaries to the Solidarity Fund.”

“Our public representatives will continue to closely monitor all spheres of government against all forms of corruption and violation of procurement laws and regulations,” the EFF added.

“The Covid-19 Command Council should scientifically and empirically look into whether voluntary isolation of infected patients is not responsible for the continued spread of the virus even after lockdown.

“We are in this war together and should unite all the people of South Africa in the fight against the rapid spread of Covid-19. The only way we will defeat this pandemic is if we set aside petty political differences and unite behind a common cause,” the EFF said.

The reactions of other political parties to the extension of the lockdown were mixed.

“The IFP welcomes the announcement to extend the Covid-19 lockdown in our country by President Cyril Ramaphosa,” the party said in a statement.

“President Ramaphosa has shown leadership in steering the country in the direction of prevention against the spread of Covid-19 with this timely announcement. Many other countries have issued the same directive in keeping their citizens at home,” the IFP added.

The official opposition, the DA, said: “We would prefer a gradual phasing out of the current lockdown over the coming weeks as opposed to a continuation of the severe and economically crippling regulations we currently see.

“Our great concern is that President Ramaphosa has justified this extension as if we face a binary choice between health concerns and economic concerns,” said party leader John Steenhuisen.

“We believe it is a great mistake to think in terms of lives versus livelihoods. This is a false dilemma. Rather, the difficult trade-offs to be made are between lives lost or damaged by Covid-19 and lives lost or damaged by the drastic measures to contain its spread,” said the DA.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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