African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Ace Magashule has defended the government’s relaxation of several COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
These relaxations include 70% loading capacity for the taxi industry (up from 50%) as well as an additional hour of operation in the morning and evening.
Mourners wishing to transport bodies of their loved ones across provinces can now apply for permits to do so. Spaza shops with permits and those who observe health requirements are also allowed to trade.
‘Don’t criticise from a position of privilege’
Some South Africans have criticised these relaxations, arguing that they undermine the lockdown and ultimately the fight against COVID-19.
However, in a post on his Facebook page on Friday, Magashule said the relaxations are meant to cater for the poor.
He cautioned South Africans from criticising the government’s decisions “from a position of privilege.” Read his post in full below.
“MORNING FELLOW SOUTH AFRICANS AND COMRADES. I see many of you suggesting that amending the rules to allow people to attend funerals, allowing spaza shops to operate, taxis to operate and informal traders is no longer a shut down. It is!
South Africa is a country whose majority are poor. Many live hand to mouth, and it is the spaza shops that will help them service the communities. If the spaza shops and informal traders remain shut, the people need to spend more money going to the cities/towns to do basic groceries, increasing the risk – as seen with long queues at major retail outlets.
Majority of the essential services workers (cashiers, nurses, petrol attendants, etc) rely on public transport to go to their workplaces to service South Africans. If the taxi industry remains closed, then how will the working class get transport to work? How will the general population go to buy medication or essentials?
It is important that when we criticise, we do not criticise from a position of privilege.
There are people who share a one room shack with a family of six or more people; they have no gardens, or television, or accessories that can help them pass time. We appreciate their sacrifice for these few days in order to save the nation.
There [are] people who have no cars and rely solely on public transport. There are people who live in the cities, who have their families in other provinces, or outside towns, or villages. If a tragedy befalls them, we need to be compassionate, and allow people to give their loved ones a dignified send-off.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) took the world by surprise and we all feel its impact – but at the same time, we need to make sure that whatever solutions we implement, we are able to cater for everyone, especially the majority.
The amendment of laws to cater for more people is not cancellation of the lockdown. We need to remain disciplined, make the little sacrifice we can – by staying at home. Let us only go out to buy essentials, and practice social distancing and good hygiene as recommended by the Department of Health.
The power to save ourselves, our loved ones, and the nation is in our hands. We are a resilient nation. We have overcome far much worse challenges than this.
Let us work together, let us protect each other, protect ourselves, so that we can beat coronavirus.
I love you all, and wishing you, your loved ones, and all the great workers at the frontline of the fight all the best. Wishing you protection from the most high, at all times.”