Avatar photo

By News24 Wire

Wire Service

Level 2 welcomed, but ‘damage has been done’

Opposition parties welcomed Saturday's decision by President Cyril Ramaphosa to ease some more of the lockdown restrictions, but said he and his party have destroyed the economy through poor leadership and graft

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has welcomed the Level 2 lockdown announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa, but his party leader, John Steenhuisen, was critical of the head of state.

Reaction to Ramaphosa’s much-anticipated Level 2 lockdown announcement, which included the lifting of the alcohol and tobacco bans, came in thick and fast on Saturday after the president’s 20:00 speech.

Steenhuisen said the extension of the national state of disaster sought to keep a few in absolute control.

“The lockdown, along with the state of disaster that was again extended for 30 days today, only serves to place power and control in a few hands and bypasses the government’s legislative arm entirely. Whether they call it Level 1, 2, 3 or 6, it doesn’t matter. It should not be there at all.”

Steenhuisen said lifting the ban on alcohol and tobacco sales, as well as the opening of beaches and parks, and permitting inter-provincial travel, was “not something for which government should now be praised or thanked”.

“These restrictions should have been lifted months ago, along with every other regulation that has curbed economic activity during lockdown.

“The ANC government has caused devastation on an unimaginable scale to the lives of ordinary South Africans, while they themselves have not experienced a single day without income.”

He said the lockdown destroyed the economy.

“The only thing the lockdown achieved was the devastation of our economy and the loss of millions of jobs. And that is what President Ramaphosa and his government must take responsibility for.

“The president admitted this evening that the models used to justify shutting down the economy were wrong.”

He called for the ban on international travel to be lifted.

“The senseless 22:00 curfew and limited school attendance – these must all be lifted immediately. Our country simply cannot afford to turn away tourists, and we can’t continue to jeopardise the education of our children.”

Winde, however, welcomed Ramaphosa’s announcement, saying it would “help ease the burden that many businesses have faced over the past few months”.

“It’s now time to get South Africa back to work. As I have said before, a job is not just a nice-to-have. It is the difference between putting food on the table and starving for many people in our country.

“We can and must fight this coronavirus pandemic, but we can also allow the economy to open while doing so, saving the jobs and livelihoods for our residents.”

He said the announcement of Level 2 was vital for Western Cape tourism.

“As a province, we welcome the announcements which will impact the tourism, hospitality and agri-processing industries, which are significant job creators in the Western Cape.

“Our provincial government has lobbied for all businesses, which can operate safely, to be allowed to do so, and for the domestic sale of alcohol to be reintroduced, with smart interventions in place.”

Winde said the new announcements mean an even greater responsibility on individuals, families and businesses to follow the golden rules at all times – the hardest work of all starts now.

“As the Western Cape Government, we are going to be committing our energy to developing a recovery plan, which will focus on jobs, safety and dignity and well-being, while ensuring that our hotspot interventions remain in place to slow the spread of the virus.”

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said it was not good leadership, but circumstances, which had compelled Ramaphosa to “relax the draconian Covid-19 lockdown regulations significantly”.

“Not only did ANC members throughout the party’s structures exploit the lockdown to loot emergency funds, but the warnings from economic circles that the country’s economy had reached a turning point also became louder and more urgent.”

He said numerous lawsuits filed against the government increased pressure to such an extent, “that it was forced to make certain concessions”.

“The move to a lower alert level is welcomed, but it is too little, too late.

“The damage that the economy sustained is extensive and the FF Plus does not see how it will recover under ANC rule, particularly in light of the fact that the economy had already deteriorated to junk status before the pandemic.”

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.