Opposition parties criticise govt’s decision to ease lockdown restrictions further

Opposition parties have mostly criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Wednesday that more economic sectors will be opened under alert level 3.

Ramaphosa said cinemas, theatres, personal care services, restaurants for sit-down meals, and non-contact sports, among others, will be allowed to reopen subject to some restrictions and health protocols.

“Announcements will be made in due course to detail these measures and indicate the date from which these activities will be permitted,” he added.

‘Too late’

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen, who has been pushing strongly for the lockdown to be lifted, said the President’s announcement came too late because the lockdown “serves no purpose and has failed.”

He said, “[Ramaphosa] seems to have finally realised just how devastating this lockdown has been – and will continue to be – for ordinary South Africans, but it’s happened far too late. Everything he announced tonight could have – and should have – been announced almost two months ago.

“It is unclear at which level of the lockdown we now find ourselves – not that it makes much difference, as the lockdown is now de facto ended. But this ending comes too late to save thousands of businesses and millions of jobs.”

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) spokesperson Vuyani Pambo also criticised Ramaphosa’s announcement in an interview with SABC News.

He said, “We note the announcement by the president with dismay. It’s very disappointing that he continued to announce the easing without scientific backing. He continues making decisions that are favourable for capitalists and not in the interest of people.”

In a statement, the party added that the relaxations have made “the entire effort inconsistent and irrational.” It accused the Ramaphosa of “conceding to the demands of white monopoly capital” and undermining the very purpose of the lockdown.

‘Premature’

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa termed the President’s announcement as “premature” and “ill-considered.

“The lifting of the restrictions is premature, as many other sectors are left in the lurch and are fighting for survival on the frontlines as school classrooms are not certain of remaining open [and] hospital beds are filling up to capacity,” he said.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde nevertheless welcomed the easing of restrictions, noting that it will give affected South Africans much-needed relief.

“The Western Cape’s tourism and hospitality industry sustains thousands of jobs in the province and allowing restaurants to reopen for sit-down meals, and certain tourism and conferencing services to reopen will provide some relief. We await further clarity from the regulations detailing when and how these businesses will be able to operate,” he stated.

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