Come out and address us, Mr President - John Steenhuisen

DA leader John Steenhuisen has questioned why President Cyril Ramaphosa has not addressed the nation about government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic in nearly three weeks.

The interim opposition party leader has called for transparency from the president, saying the first step would be weekly national addresses, as well as question-and-answer sessions with the media.

"Since his announcement of a move to Level 4 of the lockdown, he has been missing in action and has left it to a handful of ministers to communicate the questionable decisions of the National [Coronavirus] Command Council.

"We call on the President to address the nation regularly – at least once a week – and that these briefings should include the opportunity to answer questions from the media. We also call on him to make public all Covid-19 data, along with the NICD [National Institute for Communicable Diseases] modelling he is using to justify the continued lockdown," he said.

On Tuesday, the country was on day 47 of the nationwide lockdown, which moved to Level 4 on 1 May.

READ | End lockdown now or South Africans will end it for you - Steenhuisen to Ramaphosa

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday the number of people in the country who tested positive now stood at 11 350.

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The DA's interim leader, who has called for an end to the lockdown, was also demanding that data about the reasons for the continued lockdown be shared. He said this should include Covid-19 death statistics by age, HIV status and comorbidity.

"It should include the exact state of healthcare and hospital readiness in each district and city. It should include full transparency on what triggers a move to a different level of lockdown. And, importantly, it should include a clearly defined reason – and therefore goal – of the lockdown," he said.

Steenhuisen added that Ramaphosa must recognise he is answerable to 58 million citizens, not subjects.

"He has a duty to appear before them and explain not only what he and his government intend to do to protect lives and livelihoods, but also why. In other words, the reasoning, the data and the modelling behind keeping the country locked down, when experts across all fields are increasingly calling for a swift end to the lockdown crisis," Steenhuisen said.

READ | Ramaphosa hit with another letter questioning lawfulness of the NCCC 

The call for a more transparent NCCC by the DA has been echoed by some high-profile advocates. In a letter to Ramaphosa, advocates questioned the lawfulness of the NCCC.

The Presidency's response to the letter has led to more criticism over Ramaphosa's transparency.

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