Malema slams tobacco ban as ‘abuse of power’ while Ramaphosa has effectively ‘quit’ as No 1

EFF leader Julius Malema addresses a press conference, September 5, 2019. Picture: Twitter (@EFFSouthAfrica)

The EFF leader has hit out at government, suggesting that black people will die because the state has not adequately prepared for the infection peak as it claims.

In a virtual press conference, EFF leader Julius Malema criticised government’s reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, saying the state was still unprepared for the influx of Covid-19 patients.

People who would lived in poor communities would die, he said, as the country’s majority relied on public healthcare which was currently under immense pressure. People will die, “not because they have bad immune systems, but because they did not get healthcare”.

“The white community and some insignificant minority blacks elite will rely on private healthcare, which is fully functional, fully resourced and ready to give them a fighting chance.”

He said the lockdown was supposed to allow the country the time to strengthen the public healthcare system, but it was already overburdened by the pre-existing diseases. This, he said, appeared to be poorly orchestrated as government had not made any significant improvements to the country’s hospitals.

Another issue was dilapidated public transport facilities, he said, which expected more than 8 million workers, with millions of learners also relying on them. These facilities remained in questionable states.

President Ramaphosa

Moving on to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent announcement, Malema said Ramaphosa had tendered his resignation as the number one citizen and commander in chief of the country.

“By telling the whole country that ‘it is now in your hands’, Ramaphosa was rendering his resignation as captain of the ship, the number one citizen and commander in chief.

“He turned his back on his constitutional oath to protect human rights, chief among which is the right to life. This means we are back to the 1970s and 1980s, when black people were on their own, and the liberation movement was in exile, prison or underground. In those days, our people were forced to face the enemy on their own,” added Malema.

“Nothing will make white monopoly capital protect workers from Covid-19 today when they did not do so for centuries.”

Lack of masks

“If there is any importation that should happen during this period, it must be importation of manufacturing and industrial machinery to produce for ourselves and the continent.”

Referring to the recurring shortage of health equipment, he said the continued importation of disposable masks did not make sense as these were crucial for the foreseeable future.

Welcoming the marginal increases in social grants and the introduction of basic income grants, the EFF has rejected the IMF and World Bank loans, demanding that government defer its debts repayments to different financial institutions that have lent money to the state.

“We call for a moratorium of 12 months on house and car repossessions by private banks because many people are going to lose their jobs and should not be condemned to absolute poverty and homelessness because of a pandemic that they did not create.

“This is an opportunity for society to reorganise itself, its economy and use this opportunity to depopulate congested informal settlements. Our people are not born in informal settlements; they go there looking for jobs.”

Alcohol and cigarettes

Malema maintained that the banning of tobacco products should be supported by a scientific explanation or otherwise it remained an “abuse of power”.

“Scientifically it has been proven that trauma units are overburdened by alcohol abuse. It cannot be correct that you uplift alcohol sales and ban cigarette sales.

“The banning of cigarettes in South Africa benefits the multinational companies and it will hurt the small companies who will struggle to operate when the economy is opened.”

The party rejected the “premature ending” of the lockdown, which is how it has described the easing of lockdown restrictions in level 3.

Churches

“Government claims to be opening the economy yet keeps restaurants closed while opening churches. What is the role of the church in the economy?

“We would like to make a plea to religious leaders not to open their churches. We call upon religious leaders not to connive with white capital and risk our people’s lives.”

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