In an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday, Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama said it was time to implement far more stringent measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa.
Mngxitama, a longtime critic of Ramaphosa’s, who in turn once called him a “lone voice in the wilderness“, implored Ramaphosa to place the lives of South Africans over the welfare of business and the economy. He also alleged that South Africa was deliberately following a policy that would result in the majority of the population falling ill in order to create “herd immunity”, as the survivors would be unlikely to get the illness again.
Mngxitama was not among the political leaders who met with Ramaphosa this week to give him input as his party did not win any seats in the 2019 elections. His party was also deregistered by the IEC after being found to be at odds with the Constitution, as their own policies did not allow white people to become members.
As of Sunday night, South Africa had 274 confirmed cases of Covid-19, an increase of 34 from yesterday’s announcement, said Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
Ramaphosa was expected to be the one to make the announcement of the latest figures on Sunday but Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu announced that due to the magnitude and complexity of the issues Ramaphosa was dealing with, he would only communicate the outcomes and decisions of government on further measures being taken to combat the spread of Covid-19 on Monday.
Many have expected an escalation of limits on movement, with the army also being deployed.
Mngxitama told Ramaphosa on Sunday: “I ask you to forget about profits for a little while for the sake of our lives. After the Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize told the nation to prepare for up to 70% of the population to be infected by Covid-19, we knew that a million people will die if you don’t act decisively now! Don’t let this happen on your watch. We speak now so that no one would say, they didn’t know.
“The only way to put real effort into stopping possible mass deaths is to immediately shut down the country. Covid-19 is real and its impact would be catastrophic. Italy took the same indifferent attitude at the beginning that your government is taking and now they are reaping the whirlwind. Italy can’t deal with the mass deaths it is experiencing. Let South Africa (SA) not go that route. It can be done and it has been done. Abandon the West and follow China and Cuba. Show moral rectitude, defy your sponsors, be patriotic, say no to profits from death, and history shall remember you as one who blocked the trend.
“Tell the truth Mr President. Tell the nation that the policy you are implementing right now is that of ‘herd immunity’. This policy explains where Dr Mkhize got the projections of 60% to 70% of the population getting infected.
“His figures can only come from a formula based on ‘herd immunity’. We have to ask, have you Mr President treasonously withheld from the nation the truth about the policy you have chosen to adopt and its implications? The ‘herd immunity’ path, which is being implemented without being announced, will see between 60% to 70% of the population being infected, which is 41 million people; 19% of the population becoming seriously ill and needing hospitalisation, which is 8 million people; 2.3% of the population dying, which is almost 1 million people. I have no sanitised words to express this calamity. Mr President that death toll may grow exponentially given our prevalent existing medical conditions such as HIV, TB, diabetes and scores of other illnesses. We are a nation struggling with our health as it is.”
Mngxitama said that following the ‘herd immunity‘ policy was in effect telling South Africans to “prepare to die so that you may save 30% from contracting the virus”.
“I can’t help but think that your assumption is that Alexandra will die so that Sandton may live. I say this because your policies to date have been elite centric. Do not sacrifice us for the elite. Save all because it’s possible. We ask you to abandon the ‘herd immunity’ policy for a people-centred policy. We aren’t asking you to do the impossible. We ask you to starve your donors like Aspen of the opportunity to profit from the pandemic. Rather look to Cuba and China without further delay.
“The main import of this letter is to ask you to shut down the country forthwith! Let nothing move. Set up curfews. Let no train or taxi move from tomorrow. Let no mine shaft sink. Let no factory open its doors. Let no university or any institution that can be stopped, not stop. Quarantine the whole country! Shut down the border. Make sure the aircraft remain grounded.
“This is the first important task. Once there is a lockdown, please announce measures to serve people instead of business.”
The BLF has called for:
1. Free testing and nationalising the healthcare sector.
2. Providing a universal income grant to all and the financial bailout of small businesses.
3. Putting a moratorium on mortgage bond and rental payments.
4. Granting free water and electricity to all.
5. Granting free data for all.
6. Granting no payment of subscription to any television network.
7. Granting full paid leave for the employed.
8. Giving more than 1,000 clinical associates in the health sector “their powers back, including prescription of medicines up to schedule four”.
9. Deal with the backlog of licensing medical school graduates from black universities.
10. Love this nation enough to save it from the coming Armageddon.
Mngxitama said it was time for “great vision, great moral conviction and great sacrifices”.
“It’s time to put the people first. It can be done. China did it with the help of our old friend and comrade, Cuba. We do not lack solutions. We only lack conviction. We ask you to lead. Do the right thing, shut down the country for at least three months.
“If I have spoken too frankly, it’s only because I hope to be plain and avoid any ambiguity. We are facing a clear and present danger as a people, and you as the first citizen have to lead us to salvation or leave us in hell. We ask you to chose life over profits.”
(Compiled by Charles Cilliers)