John Steenhuisen: President Ramaphosa must put South Africa first, and end the lockdown.

PRESSURE is mounting for President Cyril Ramaphosa to end the country’s national lockdown, which has been in force for the past five months. 

The DA said on Friday that the State of Disaster is coming to an end in less than 24 hours and there is no clarity at all on what happens next.  

“This is unacceptable,” said the party’s interim leader John Steenhuisen.

“The stranglehold this places on our country goes way beyond the immediate damaging effects of the regulations enforced under the State of Disaster, because it is the uncertainty that inflicts the most damage.”

Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa is nowhere to be seen while millions of livelihoods are in peril as thousands of businesses cannot plan for the immediate future.

Economists say with the South African economy already under severe pressure – the SA Reserve Bank (SARB) having revised its GDP forecast down to 0.2% for 2020 – it was expected that the impact of slowed-down global growth (expected to contract by 2.1%) due to the pandemic would see South Africa’s GDP retracting by between 2.5% to 3.5% with some models estimating up to 5%.

He said the Coronavirus will still be around for one or two more years and the country should learn to co-exist with it. 

“We cannot remain trapped by indecision and ego until then. We must be smart when it comes to reducing the risk of transmission through masks, hygiene, distancing and ongoing testing, but we have to get out there now and rebuild our shattered economy,” said Steenhuisen.

“Every day that the president dithers, our country is one step closer to economic ruin. Already we have lost more revenue thanks to the inexplicable ban on alcohol and tobacco than we borrowed, amid great fanfare, from the IMF.”

“What is the point of that then? Our economy is estimated to have lost over a trillion Rand already due to this extended lockdown, and any positive outcome that might have followed the president’s much vaunted investment plans has certainly fizzled away as his government committed economic hara-kiri.”



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