The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has called on the government to place South Africa back on level 5 lockdown for three months, citing rising COVID-19 infection rates and deaths.
In a statement on Tuesday, the party said South Africa has had more than 40,000 new cases over the past seven days, with a daily average of 6,000.
“No amount of social distancing, wearing masks and sanitisation will help reduce the rise in infections and deaths. The only strategy that will help us is ‘staying at home,'” EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo wrote.
As of Monday (29 June), the country had a total of 144,264 confirmed cases, according to an update by Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.
A total of 2,529 people had lost their lives, a mortality rate of 1.8 percent. Total recoveries stood at 70,614, which translates to a recovery rate of 48.9 percent.
‘Planned food supply’
The EFF warned that both public and private healthcare systems could soon be overwhelmed, leading to “thousands of people losing their lives.” Companies, schools and other public spaces could be unable to operate “in the next few weeks” because of high infection rates, it added.
“Our democratic government has the responsibility to act in the interest of the paramount right to life. No other right comes above the right to life,” the party said.
To sustain a three-month lockdown, the EFF proposed several measures, including unity “in a planned supply of food, electricity, water and sanitation for all” and control of food prices through regulation. Other measures it proposed include:
- All financial institutions must be forced through regulations to give interest-free payment holidays for three months for all non-essential workers and businesses.
- All basic and higher education learning and teaching must be conducted online and through the public broadcaster.
- Internet and broadcasting service prices must be regulated and reduced.
- There must be immediate infrastructural renovation and expansion of all provincial hospitals like Baragwanath.
- There must be satellite quarantine centres in all informal settlements.
- All essential workers in water, sanitation, security, energy, transport, food and agriculture must be given free medical healthcare coverage for COVID-19.
Hard lockdown ‘a possibility’ – Mkhize
In an interview with Radio 702 earlier on Tuesday, Mkhize expressed concern at the spike in infections and said another hard lockdown – or level 5 – is still a possibility.
He said, “We have warned that the surge will come in the winter months. I’m afraid the numbers are increasing and we need people to be aware and take all the necessary precautions to try and protect ourselves.
“A hard lockdown will always remain a possibility, it may become necessary. When that situation comes, we’ll talk about it.”
Mkhize nevertheless emphasised that level 5 lockdown, which was in place for five weeks, had prepared the health sector for the surge. The government could therefore not extend it for any longer, he added.