President Cyril Ramaphosa has fired back at critics, who believe the lockdown restrictions should be immediately lifted, by saying “of course not everyone” will agree with the government.
Ramaphosa boldly added the lockdown levels were a strategic approach to save lives in what seemed to be an answer to the DA’s open criticism of the regulations.
He was speaking to the media in Port Elizabeth during an oversight visit to inspect the state of the Eastern Cape’s health systems in the battle against Covid-19.
“Of course, not all of us will agree on the strategic approach we have taken, but we believe this is an appropriate strategic approach that is appropriate to save the lives of our people. The consultation processes [with the National Coronavirus Command Council] are starting as early as tomorrow,” said Ramaphosa.
“We are not stuck on Level 4 – I need to make that very clear. We are going to migrate to Level 3 so that we can loosen up a number of restrictions so that the economy can start operating once again. We have said from the onset that our purpose is to save lives and the same time to save livelihoods.”
Ramaphosa’s statement came on the same day the DA’s interim leader, John Steenhuisen, announced his party’s plans to file court papers to end “the national lockdown that is tearing our society and economy to pieces”.
In the virtual announcement, the outspoken Steenhuisen said: “This afternoon, our lawyers will file papers in the high court challenging the rationality of three separate lockdown-related decisions: The night curfew, the restrictions on e-commerce and the limited three-hour window for exercise. These cannot be justified and should be immediately reversed.”
On Friday, he added, the party would file more court papers, this time challenging the constitutionality of the Disaster Management Act.
“Because if the act does not meet constitutional muster, it means the decisions taken by the National [Coronavirus] Command Council under this act are not valid,” said Steenhuisen.
He had previously called for an end of the “ANC lockdown crisis”, describing some of the bans as “senseless”.
Ramaphosa said: “Let me immediately add, we are not the only country in the world that is having to deal with loosening up the lockdown that many countries have embarked upon around the world.
“Many countries are now looking very closely at how they can ease the restrictions and we have decided that we are going to do it in an orderly manner because we have been advised by scientists that if you do it abruptly, you risk running a re-infection rate that could start happening. Now we are managing that.”
He also referred to some of the things he said during his Wednesday night address, and assured the nation the country would move to Level 3.
“… Because a people have to live and therefore our economy is very important. Yesterday, I announced that we are going to be having consultations with a view of moving to Level 3. I must make it clear that we are moving to Level 3. Many parts of the country will go to Level 3.
“There are certain parts of the country that are hot spots which we are talking about, to demonstrate precisely the incidents of infections. This country, yes, is bound to go to Level 3 as we will go to Level 2 and finally Level 1,” said Ramaphosa.
The Eastern Cape accounts for 12.3% of infections nationally with 1,569 confirmed coronavirus cases, 31 deaths and 643 recoveries. Port Elizabeth is considered the hot spot of the province.