The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the announcement tonight that the UIF TERS scheme will be extended to assist stricken businesses and their employees.
We also welcome the relaxing of the regulations that will now allow restaurants to operate at half-capacity. This should, however, also have been accompanied by an end to the alcohol ban, as thousands more jobs remain in jeopardy.
What was missing tonight was stronger action to curb the violence and looting that is sweeping across the country. As large parts of South Africa go up in flames as the bitter factional battle in the ANC spills onto our streets, South Africans are left with one burning question: Where has our leadership been until now?
For days now the destruction of property and the looting have raged throughout KwaZulu-Natal, and now also other parts of the country, following the incarceration of former President Jacob Zuma, and for days our President has been missing in action. We note tonight’s words of condemnation, but this should have happened right at the start. President Ramaphosa also should have acknowledged the ANC’s role in this crisis, as this is essentially their internal war being waged on our streets.
This is a time when our president should be at the forefront of the efforts to restore calm. It is also a time when all the country’s policing and intelligence resources should be deployed to snuff out these criminal activities at the source. These actions are clearly being orchestrated and encouraged, and are not simply spontaneous protests. So where are our Crime Intelligence and our State Security Agency? What have they been doing since this violence erupted?
Back when individual beach walkers or surfers needed to be arrested, SAPS wasted no time sending dozens of police vehicles to our country’s beaches. There were enough officers on standby to arrest those operating soup kitchens or parents making an emergency run to the shop for baby formula. But when the war in ANC turns into a free-for-all of looting and vandalism, they are nowhere to be seen.
At the same time the President wants ordinary South Africans to continue paying the ultimate price as their industries remained locked down and their livelihoods are destroyed. He expects citizens – and particularly those in the hospitality and liquor industries – to carry on complying with lockdown regulations which simply can no longer be defended in the light of all the violent lockdown transgressions that are going unpunished right now.
Inaction on the part of the government, SAPS and the president are fast destroying whatever still remains of the so-called social compact 15 months into this pandemic. Inaction when Ace Magashule’s supporters flouted lockdown regulations, inaction when Julius Malema’s supporters flouted lockdown regulations, and inaction when Jacob Zuma’s supporters gathered at Nkandla.
If President Ramaphosa expects citizens to comply with his regulations, then he needs to uphold his end of the bargain. This means:
- Ensuring that those fanning the flames of this country-wide unrest are immediately arrested and charged.
- Ensuring that SAPS applies the lockdown regulations everywhere, and not only on soft targets.
- Offering meaningful financial assistance to businesses affected by ongoing lockdowns by immediately rolling out the TERS extension.
- Sharing the responsibility for our country’s vaccination effort with the private sector and capable provincial governments, so that we can open everything up as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter who brings in the vaccines and who manages the rollout, as long as we get more jabs in arms. We need to get our country’s vaccination numbers up to 300,000 a day.