The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) expressed their disapproval following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement to move the country to Level 3, bringing a significant easing of measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The EFF rejects, with deep sadness, what is effectively the ending of the Covid-19 lockdown. The announcement by Ramaphosa tonight must be read as a resignation speech from fighting Covid-19 and saving lives, especially black lives,” the party said in a statement on Sunday evening.
The party said the announcement of reopening the economy and sale of alcohol stood had essentially ended the lockdown which sought to ensure social distancing, flatten the curve, prepare the healthcare system and save lives.
“Government’s decision to uplift the lockdown regulations happens on no sound scientific and epidemiological basis. This is despite their repeated commitment that science will be the only basis to guide decisions for reopening the economy,” the red berets said.
The EFF said the decision to move to Level 3 was “reckless and senseless only benefitting the white capitalist establishment at the expense of black people’s lives”.
“Up to this point, the South African Covid-19 curve of infections has worsened over the last weeks, now standing at 22,583 total infections.
“In fact, we are beginning to see a weekly average of over 1,000 cases a day while a week ago, on 17 May, there were only 264 deaths. Today, there are 429; that is close to a double increase and all this happened under a lockdown.
“When the lockdown restrictions have been removed, all these numbers will shoot to the sky. All trauma units in the country had rested from the cases related to alcohol and alcohol sale is the effective undermining of all this effort to use hospital space and resources to focus on growing Covid-19 cases,” the party said.
The EFF further said alcohol-related road accidents and interpersonal conflicts would start filling the trauma units in public hospitals in the next coming weeks.
“Today, Ramaphosa told the nation and its citizens that “it is now in your hands”.
“This is because from here on, the government does not have a plan that will deal with Covid-19. The lives of black people are lives of overcrowding, dilapidated healthcare, sanitation and housing,” the party.
The red berets said the virus would only thrive under the conditions and many people will die because of no access to healthcare and treatment while the “majority of these people would be black”.
The party said the government had an option of continuing with the lockdown with a guarantee of food for everyone and they could have also taken time to expand quality healthcare for everyone.
“They also could have uplifted millions out of informal settlements, renovated, expanded public schools and sanitation for everyone. The only safe people from Covid-19 are predominately the white population due to proper sanitation, housing and healthcare conditions.
“Over 80% of black people will not have access to healthcare to get treatment to fight the virus. During colonial and apartheid times, the liberation movement leadership used to say black people are on their own.
“This was because the government of the time was founded on the neglect of black lives. The ending of apartheid, the establishment of a democratic government, should mean black people can now rely on the state,” the party added.
The EFF further said Ramaphosa had “single-handedly reversed all the confidence” by saying the fight against Covid-19 was now in the public’s hands.
“With the distant and recent history of white monopoly capital’s neglect of occupational health and safety for black people, how could you say it is in our peoples’ hands? How could you tell a mineworker that it is in their hands to make sure the mine they work in practices social distancing when in fact it is not their mine?
“How could you tell domestic workers not to clean the homes of their bosses when they cannot determine if the boss is positive of Covid-19 or not?” the party asked.
The red beret said no amount of washing hands, sanitising and social distancing could ever work in overcrowded and dilapidated public facilities like in transport, workplaces and schools.
“It must be put on record that today the ANC-led government has abdicated its responsibility to guarantee the right to life, especially of black people,” the party concluded.
(Compiled by Molefe Seeletsa)