President Cyril Ramaphosa said another crisis the country had to confront was the battered economy.
Johannesburg – President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the country’s fight against the coronavirus as a post-war situation, saying new measures were needed to rebuild the economy.
Ramaphosa was speaking on Tuesday during a visit to KwaZulu-Natal, where he observed the province’s preparedness in dealing with the spread of Covid-19.
The province has been one of the hardest hit with rising cases and deaths which have seen the closure of some hospitals due to the spread of the coronavirus.
As of Monday, KZN has 35 Covid-19 related deaths and more than 1 100 confirmed cases.
Ramaphosa said he was pleased with the response on the health front, but called for more to be done on preparing beds. His call comes from advice from scientists and experts who warned the worst was yet to come for the country in terms of rising cases.
“We have to plan for the worst, we have been told that the worst is still coming and more people will be infected. Now we have to ensure that we lessen the pace of the infections. We must continue social distancing and washing our hands and wearing masks,” he said.
The country is on Level 4 of a national lockdown which has seen some easing of restrictions with certain parts of the economy being allowed to operate. More than a million people have returned to work since Monday, in line with the eased restrictions.
Ramaphosa said another crisis the country had to confront was the battered economy, which has taken further strain during the lockdown.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and the National Treasury have warned of a decline in revenue and possible job losses due to the economic strain caused by the lockdown.
The president said new, innovative ways needed to be cultivated to help grow the economy. He said there may be a need to look at new sectors and industries that might provide solutions for lifting the economy.
“We are now going to have to go for growth and maximise what needs to be done. We are going to be facing a huge problem of unemployment. Covid-19 gives an opportunity for a new beginning that will make us find new ways of functioning. It should enhance what we need to do as a country going forward,” Ramaphosa said.
His comments come as Mboweni was addressing Parliament’s finance committee on Tuesday where he said there was a need to quickly open up the economy while balancing the need to save lives.
“There’s no doubt that opening the economy is urgent, but the urgency must be tempered by the need to protect the lives of our people. So, we need to have a balance. It is not an either-or situation, but a balanced situation,” he said.