The Democratic Alliance (DA) has criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to move to COVID-19 alert level 3 against the advice of scientists.
Rampahosa previously stated that some scientists advised Cabinet to move to level 1 lockdown, but the government chose to move to level 3 as a “middle road” solution.
“The scientists are the ones who continue to lead our effort in all of this. They have advised us that we needed to impose a lockdown, which we did,” Ramaphosa said.
“They also said once we went through level 5 and level 4, they also said the lockdown has served its purpose.”
“In fact what they were also advising was that you could quite easily go to level 1,” he said.
The President said this advice from scientists was balanced against that of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which advised the gradual easing of the national lockdown as the infection rate lowered.
Following these consultations, the government opted to move to level 3 lockdown.
The DA has labelled this decision as “unconscionable” in the face of the advice from scientists to move to level 1 lockdown.
“The ANC’s hard lockdown is world-record-breaking in both duration and scale of economic devastation, yet millions of workers and school children and thousands of businesses are being forced to remain in it against the advice of local experts,” the DA said.
“Either deep naivety or outright dishonesty is behind Ramaphosa’s claim that level 3 is a middle road between the advice of South African scientists and the World Health Organisation (WHO).”
The DA argued that the WHO’s advice of easing the lockdown when the infection rate lowered did not pertain to South Africa, as infections have risen with the lockdown in place.
It added that if the government were to follow the advice of the WHO, it would be in lockdown for many more months, as the peak of infections is only expected between August and September.
“The past six weeks of hard lockdown have been irrational,” the DA said.
It argued that the government has failed to adjust its response to new information as it becomes available, particularly:
- Falling fatality projections
- Mounting evidence that COVID-19 is not a major threat to healthy 0-70-year-olds
“The appropriate response is to protect the high-risk group and let the vast majority of South Africans get back to work with an appropriate set of safety protocols in place, to produce the tax revenue necessary to fund health, education and social grants,” the DA said.
“As if the last six weeks haven’t already wrought enough unnecessary destruction, the ANC is using people’s lives and livelihoods as pawns in their internal chess games.”