The Freedom Front Plus says President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call on South Africans to take up the Jerusalema dance challenge is reminiscent of Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France before the French Revolution, who allegedly said that the poor and starving should eat cake.
Ramaphosa made the remark when he announced that South Africa would be moving to Level 1 of the lockdown on Sunday.
“I urge everyone to use this public holiday as family time, to reflect on the difficult journey we have all travelled, to remember those who have lost their lives, and to quietly rejoice in the remarkable and diverse heritage of our nation. And there can be no better celebration of our South African-ness than joining the global phenomenon that is the Jerusalema dance challenge,” Ramaphosa said.
FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said: “It is extremely disappointing that the president is telling South Africans to do a dance while the country finds itself in an economic depression and he has failed to announce any feasible plan to bring about economic recovery.”
Groenewald said the move to Level 1 was to be expected, but what South Africa needed now was economic recovery and not unnecessary lockdown regulations.
“The FF Plus still holds the view that all restrictions must be lifted, with certain exceptions,” he said.
“There are understandably some restrictions that must remain in effect, like the ban on large sport gatherings and the ban on travel to and from countries with a high risk of contagion.
“Various sectors, like the guesthouse industry, which is predominantly dependent on tourism, as well as the restaurant, film and arts industries, are desperately fighting for survival at the moment and it is imperative to save them from going under.”
Tax relief needed
Groenewald said the curfew and restrictions on trading hours could no longer be afforded. “The new curfew of midnight is another one of the government’s incomprehensible measures that make no sense at all. It is still unclear to which sectors this will apply.
“What is needed now is tax relief for individuals and business enterprises to increase disposable income in order to ensure economic growth post-Covid-19. The entire South Africa is an economic zone and should be treated as such. The economic stimulus package that the government announced in April is insufficient. Policy certainty is of the utmost importance at this time.
“Social interventions, like the UIF-TERS Fund and social relief grants are unsustainable and will not help the economy to recover in the long run.”
He added that it was to be expected that international flights would be resumed, with restrictions on the countries from where and to which one may travel, seeing as there were still countries, such as India and Brazil, where the number of infections was on the rise again.
Countries must be strictly categorised according to their risk level, Groenewald said.
“It must be kept in mind that South Africa is now moving into summer while the countries in the northern hemisphere are on the verge of winter, which makes those countries more susceptible to the spread of the virus according to the available scientific data.
“International travel will provide a significant injection for South Africa’s tourism industry and will make a crucial contribution to the country’s economy. At the moment, there are thousands of South Africans, who usually earn an income abroad, who are now stranded in the country because they may not travel.”
Lockdown regulations disregarded
Groenewald said it was becoming increasingly clear that the public was no longer taking much notice of the existing lockdown regulations.
“An example is the funeral of the ANC veteran Andrew Mlangeni who passed away last month. There the ANC itself broke the rules and nobody was prosecuted. The regulations are obviously turning into some kind of travesty.
“It is, however, still important for the public to implement the measures needed to keep them safe from the virus, but the time has also come to do everything we can to get the economy back on track and to return to normal,” Groenewald said.