South Africa’s lockdown is one of the most harmful in the world, says Business for Ending Lockdown (B4EL).
The organisation kicked off its campaign to end the lockdown in South Africa into higher gear today with the launch of The Definitive Lockdown Presentation: How lockdown is not helping, costing lives, wiping out savings and destroying the economy.
The presentation by Pandemic Data Analysis (Panda) and experts from TransUnion and ETM Macro Advisors, offers serious criticism of the lockdown. According to Nick Hudson, an actuary and team member of Panda, ending the lockdown depends on citizens who should keep pushing for it.
“The lockdown is unconstitutional, a human rights violation and a crime against humanity. It should never have been renewed.”
He acknowledged that people were scared and that you could not talk to scared people while you were angry.
“You must talk to them with empathy. We are all angry, but we need to deal with our fellow citizens gently.”
Hudson said the impact of Covid-19 in South Africa was completely over-estimated, while international experience was ignored. The economic and mortality impacts were not considered and the benefits non-existent.
He criticised government for panicking if they already had evidence that the virus would not be so severe. He ascribed Covid-19 deaths to age, comorbidity and obesity, and accused the authorities of using bad science.
He believes the lockdown will kill more people than the virus and that the authorities are using fear tactics because they are embarrassed to get it wrong as well as being sceptical of the long-term after-effects.
Hans Zachar, head of emerging markets at TransUnion, looked at the impact on SMMEs and what small businesses can do to restart the economy. Most of the vulnerable consumers work in the SMME sector and small businesses need help in the future because they will provide economic growth, he said.
“It is not over for our economy, as we can see from the activity increasing as lockdown eases. We have to keep looking for new opportunities. Now is not the time for fear and uncertainty. We must change carefully, but deliberately.”
Russel Lamberti, another member of Panda, said the 2009 recession caused a 2% GDP decline, but now South Africa is looking at a decline in GDP of between 10% to 15%. A rapid recovery would be expected after lockdown, he said, but as demonstrated by car sales, this is not the case.
While tax revenue was down, government spending kept increasing, which means that South Africans will be paying higher taxes, which is another knock-on effect of the lockdown.
“Lockdowns are a deeply radical approach and not justified. People will take their own precautions.”