Two major S. African parties divide over easing of COVID-19 lockdown

Source: Xinhua| 2020-05-24 01:02:55|Editor: huaxia

CAPE TOWN, May 23 (Xinhua) -- As South Africa is preparing to further ease the COVID-19 lockdown, two major political parties have raised conflicting views over the issue.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Saturday cautioned against easing the lockdown as the pandemic continued to spread, while the Democratic Alliance (DA) called for an immediate end to the restrictions.

Easing the lockdown prematurely would put the lives of people, particularly the blacks, at great risk, the EFF said in a statement.

"The voices that are calling for premature, unscientific reopening of the economy are led by white monopoly capital that has never cared for the lives of our people," said the EFF, which claims to represent the black majority.

"Their view of black lives has always been as cheap and easily disposable; hence historically, blacks have always been subjected to risky working conditions that have shortened their lives or leave them with disease," the party said.

But the DA argued that "the hard lockdown is doing more harm than good and will cost more lives than it can possibly save."

The lockdown "is generating long-term poverty which will reduce South Africa's life-expectancy and destroy millions of lives," said the DA.

The party urged the government to end the lockdown and allow South Africans to go safely back to work.

From June 1, the country will ease the lockdown from level four to level three which will allow more businesses to reopen and greater movement of people, to be accompanied by the return of children to school.

With social distancing regulations set to be less stringent, the EFF voiced concern over "increased infections, hospitalizations and death."

"The reopening of schools and the different sectors must absolutely be informed by the absolute certainty that this will not lead to increased infections, hospitalizations and death,"the EFF said.

Opening the economy will only lead to massive death of black people, the party claimed.

"The white monopoly capital believes that its privileged white population will be less exposed if not exposed at all because their working conditions have guarantees of occupational health, safety and general access to quality healthcare," said the EFF.

The DA said however that even if the country locks down for a year, the virus will still be there when South Africans go back to work.

The purpose of the hard lockdown was to delay the virus spreading, not to eliminate the virus, the DA said.

The DA criticised the South African government for enforcing "the world's longest and harshest" lockdown that started on March 27.

"Unlike other governments with long lockdowns, the South African government is not providing the safety net to poor people and small businesses, so millions of people are starving and hundreds of thousands of businesses are going bankrupt," the DA said.

South Africa remains the epicenter of COVID-19 in Africa, with daily confirmed cases around 1,000 for days. The country recorded a total of 20,125 confirmed cases and 397 related deaths as of Friday.

The World Health Organization has praised South Africa for taking tough action against COVID-19 and advised against easing the restrictions before cases are brought down.

On Saturday, President Cyril Ramaphosa engaged with traditional leadership to discuss how to further ease the lockdown.

The engagement was part of a series of consultations the president has held with leaders across various sectors of society since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that the national effort to combat the crisis is inclusive and enjoys the support of all stakeholder groups, Ramaphosa's office said. Enditem