Having been accused of lethargy early on in his term, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s reaction to the Covid-19 crisis has been remarkable and perfect.
Ramaphosa did not dilly-dally when he announced a 21-day lockdown on Monday evening from the Union Buildings.
He was composed and spoke with clarity and confidence.
Ramaphosa’s arguments were based on facts and science and he didn’t try to score political points like many of his peers in other countries around the world.
His message was simple: our biggest and only task now is to contain the spread of Covid-19. We need to do anything humanly possible to minimise the infections and inevitable deaths.
Democratic South Africa is a constitutional democracy built on human rights. Key to those rights are freedom of movement and association which we should treasure and safeguard with our lives.
So when the president asks us to give up fundamental human rights, we should be very concerned. Ramaphosa, who co-authored the Constitution, was well aware of this when he addressed the nation on the biggest public health crisis this decade.
Constantly referring to what other parts of the world did right or wrong, Ramaphosa logically explained the need for South Africans to lockdown for 21 days. The alternative is a public health crisis and immeasurable human suffering and tragedy.
Apart from the lockdown, Ramaphosa outlined government’s stepped-up efforts to increase testing for Covid-19 and how the government has partnered with the private sector to help and stimulate the economy.
Ramaphosa stuck to his call for unity; that South Africans must walk with him on this difficult but necessary road to turn around the rapidly-spreading tide.
The president cannot do this alone. He needs all 55 million of us to buckle-up and play our part in not spreading the disease while we keep the country going.
Each of us has a role to play if we want to overcome this struggle, as we have done many times before.