The economy of South Africa post COVID-19 is going to be like a “wasteland” akin to a post war era, President Cyril Ramaphosa warned today, saying the country was moving towards relaxing lockdown restrictions to save jobs.
Hours after his address to the nation was criticized for lacking decisiveness, Ramaphosa came out strong to emphasize that his government was consulting widely to ensure that many parts of the country move to level 3 of the lockdown, which could happen before the end of May.
The president was speaking on his visit to the Eastern Cape, where there were serious concerns regarding the recent sharp spike in the number of people infected by COVID-19, along with Western Cape.
“This country is bound to go from level 3 as well to level 2 and finally level 1. We are not stuck in level 4, I need to make that clear. We are now going to migrate to level 3 so that we loosen up the number of restrictions so that the economy can start operating once again,” he said.
“When I declared the first lockdown, we preceded that process with consultation. We are doing exactly the same thing as we are moving to level 3. There is no need to get too excited, to get too hot under the collar, we are doing this as properly as it should be done,” he added.
Ramaphosa noted that the first consultation was happening tomorrow at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), where government would be interacting with stakeholders including unions and business formations.
The president said he was worried about the unemployment that was going to be caused by the Coronavirus, adding that the response to pandemic should ensure job creation.
His statements came as the DA ratchet up its campaign to force government to lift the lockdown.
DA leader John Steenhuisen said the party’s lawyers would tomorrow file court papers challenging the constitutionality of the restrictions on e-commerce, the night curfew and the 3-hour window for exercising.
“And so the DA is asking people to help fund this legal process through a small contribution,” he said.
Addressing the nation Wednesday night, Ramaphosa said: “In the coming days, we will also be announcing certain changes to level 4 regulations to expand permitted business activities in the retail space and e-commerce and reduce restrictions on exercise.”