Lockdown must end: Opposition parties slam Ramaphosa

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen is among numerous opposition leaders who have criticised the president's address on Wednesday night. DA interim leader John Steenhuisen is among numerous opposition leaders who have criticised the president's address on Wednesday night.

Opposition parties have criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa over his address to the nation on Wednesday night.

Ramaphosa announced that most of the country would go to level 3 of the lockdown by the end of May, but did not offer many details on what this would look like.

Without providing details, the president said parts of the country might not move to level 3 owing to the high rate of Covid-19 transmissions in those areas.

Opposition parties were not too friendly about the president's address.

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen reiterated his party's call for the reopening of the economy.

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“We repeat our call for the national lockdown to end swiftly. It is not a rational strategy, and has not been so for weeks. It is irrational and disproportionate to the scale of the risk that Covid poses, relative to other risks,” he said.

Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa was attempting to defend the indefensible, adding that the lockdown had cost more lives than it had saved.

“The DA repeats our warning that if government doesn’t end this lockdown, the people will end it for them,” he said.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa agreed that the lockdown should be lifted, and that Ramaphosa had nothing new to say during his address.

“There is nothing new which President Cyril Ramaphosa has mentioned or introduced. I think he had to come and brief the country to deal with rumours that he is under siege ... So we have seen him, we are happy that he is still our president,” said Holomisa.

He said Ramaphosa's message was clear that there would be no major changes until the end of May.

Holomisa further criticised Ramaphosa’s government for not opening the lockdown in a similar manner to how other countries have done. He warned that people were dying of hunger and that the government’s food parcels were not enough to deal with this.

IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa was also critical of Ramaphosa. “The president really had nothing new to say - save to probably update the country to remind us that we are still in lockdown,” he said.

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Hlengwa said Ramaphosa missed an opportunity to clarify confusion caused by members of his cabinet, which he had admitted to during his speech.

“He must rein in his ministers. This lockdown is not a competition, a popularity contest, to see which minister can get the most appearances and the most likes. That is what caused confusion ... so he must crack the whip,” he said.

Hlengwa said the country was not ready to go to level 3 because the curve has not yet flattened and deaths and transmissions have increased. 

He said level 4 had shown that the government was not able to manage the crisis and should go back to the drawing board to bring about certainty and stability regarding the lockdown regulations.

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