After almost a year of lockdown, what does Ramaphosa have to show for it?

Issued by John Steenhuisen – DA Leader
14 Dec 2020 in News

President Ramaphosa’s announcement this evening has made one thing crystal clear: that after almost a year of lockdown and devastating lockdown regulations, South Africa’s health capacity is still nowhere near as strong and developed as it should be to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, despite what was promised 9 months ago.

Furthermore, the crucial plan to obtain a vaccine for South Africa has yet to be rolled out. South Africa doesn’t need a vaccine acquisition task team, we need our President to give us a date when the roll-out of this now widely available medical advancement can be introduced to our population.

It is unconscionable that headway into this matter is still being stalled. President Ramaphosa cannot mire the acquisition of this life-saving vaccine in unnecessary government administration.

The DA does not support President Ramaphosa’s announcement that certain beaches and public parks across the country will be closed for the duration of the festive season.

This announcement goes against the scientific advice and recommendations made by medical experts such as Dr Angelique Coetzee and Professor Salim Abdool Karim, and will be impossible to enforce.

This restriction is irrational and will spell disaster for the hospitality and tourism industries. Ultimately, it will be the fatal blow to tourism for coastal economies bringing more economic turmoil to coastal communities.

We note President Ramaphosa’s announcement of the stricter enforcement of level 1 restrictions, and the reduction in the number of people permitted to attend indoor and outdoor events. We agree that this is a necessary step to curb the spread of Covid-19 over the festive period, and we agree that South Africans must take individual responsibility to curb the spread of the virus during this time.

We also note the compromise made with regards to the national curfew. While this curfew is later than anticipated, it is still unworkable for many in the restaurant business and will drastically shave off cash flow to establishments across the country.

But ultimately, we have to ask ourselves what South Africa has achieved after almost a year of lockdown. In May this year, President Ramaphosa said:

“We have used the time during lockdown to build up an extensive public health response and prepare our health system for the anticipated surge in infections.”

Almost a year later, having decimated our economy, killed nearly half of all small business in the country, and forced millions into poverty, South Africa is no better off at dealing with this pandemic than we were a year ago. There is no extensive public health response and our dilapidated health system continues to buckle under the pressure of Covid-19.

We cannot ignore the elephant in the room. South Africa’s public health system has collapsed under the weight of this pandemic due to the ANC’s relentless theft, for decades on end, of money meant to build hospitals, train nurses, and take care of our country in the event of a national health disaster.

Nine months after President Ramaphosa promised us “an extensive public health response”, South Africans are still being told when and where we can go, and what we may or may not do at a time when we should be able to come together safely and freely. This is the long-term price we have to pay for the ANC’s decimation of our public health system.

After severe and relentless corruption, a mere 9 months is nothing to repair something that has been broken over decades.

In March, South Africa made an agreement with President Ramaphosa and his government to fight this pandemic together. But the President has not upheld his part of the deal. We gave government a chance, but our trust has been breached. It will be difficult to contain this virus moving forward without it.

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