A return to level 5 would be overkill, says analyst

A City of Tshwane Health Care worker can be seen at the Denlyn Shopping Centre in Mamelodi where a mobile Covid-19 testing centre was set up for mass screening and testing, 3 July 2020, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Professor Lesiba Teffo says each province must be judged on its merits in terms of number of infections, instead of treating all provinces the same.

As the call for the country to be returned to level 5 of the Covid-19 lockdown increase, a political expert believes there is sufficient evidence to justify stricter measures to contain the escalating virus spread, but level 5 is simply over the top.

Political analyst Lesiba Teffo, a professor of politics at the University of South Africa, said each province must be treated on its merits in terms of number of infections, instead of treating all provinces the same.

The Economic Freedom Fighters have been leading the calls for a return to level five, with EFF national spokesperson, Delisile Ngwenya, saying the increasing number of Covid-19 infections and deaths justifies it.  The call was echoed earlier by Gauteng Premier David Makhura, who promised to make a representation to the National Covid-19 Command Council to impose stricter measures in Gauteng due to increasing virus infections in the province.

Delisile described the latest infection figures as “very scary”.

“We are saying why we are sacrificing the lives of our people for the sake of money by going back to work. We are not against economic growth but people are dying out there,” Ngwenya said.

She said the EFF took a decision to donate 33 percent of the salaries of its public representatives to the Solidarity Fund, because it was concerned about suffering and hunger by the poor during the lockdown. They want the government to supply sufficient food and water to poor communities, and banks to give interest-free bond and loan repayment holidays to the people for at least three months as a means of debt relief.

EFF’s Ngwenya claimed that President Cyril Ramaphosa was under pressure from big business to open up the economy despite the infections and deaths beginning to peak. She said infections were escalating in the mines due to impossible social distancing underground.

“To Ramaphosa the economy comes first before the lives of our people,” Ngwenya said.

Teffo, however, says returning the lockdown to level five nationally would be overkill, and unfair to provinces such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and Northern Cape. If at all, level 4 should apply only to provinces like the Western Cape, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, where the rates of Covid-19 infections are higher.

“Let the provinces be treated differently, let each province be treated on its merit as far as Covid-19 is concerned. For instance Limpopo is not at the same level as Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The conditions and levels of infections are different,” Teffo said.

ericn@citizen.co.za

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