Opposition parties slate Ramaphosa for move to level 4 restrictions

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  • Opposition parties have slated President Cyril Ramaphosa and his administration for the new lockdown restrictions he announced.
  • The restrictions, in place for 14 days, include an alcohol ban and a ban on sit-down dining at restaurants.
  • However, the parties say the government must be held accountable for the slow vaccine rollout.

Opposition parties have criticised the government's decision to impose an adjusted Level 4 lockdown, which President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday night.

LIVE | All the latest coronavirus and lockdown updates

Under the new restrictions, leisure travel to and from Gauteng is prohibited, curfew hours have been extended, a 14-day alcohol sales ban has been implemented, and restaurants will only be allowed to sell take-away meals and delivery orders.

The DA's John Steenhuisen described the restrictions as "draconian", saying South Africans are being forced to pay the price for the government's "catastrophic vaccine failures".

"The DA has called for a comprehensive parliamentary inquiry into the government's handling of the vaccine programme. There must be accountability for this failure," he said.

READ | Lockdown: Ramaphosa places the country under alert Level 4

He added that, after 15 months of various lockdown levels of lockdown, South Africans should at least have access to life-saving medical treatment.

"Ramaphosa and his government have had a year to secure an adequate supply of vaccines to protect South African lives and livelihoods from this virus - a year to plan a speedy, efficient rollout programme," he said.

"He and his government have failed to build healthcare capacity to be able to accommodate all in need and failed to build track and trace capacity to isolate the virus and break chains of transmission."

Illusion of action

Steenhuisen said the "blunt instrument of blanket restrictions" only served to give the illusion of action.

"Only people who have never started and run a restaurant and who don't rely on its success would force a restaurant to close with no notice to cover for their failures. What about all the food sitting in fridges waiting to be sold? The government may not plan ahead, but business owners do," he said.

"The tourism industry continues to be shut down at a moment's notice, with the expectation that they should continue servicing their debts and complying with draconian labour legislation, with no support from government at all. All those who rely, for their income, on the alcohol industry are also once again being made to pay for government failure."

READ | Ramaphosa announces fourth alcohol ban as SA heads into Level 4 lockdown

Steenhuisen warned that unless the government was held accountable for "their vaccine failures", South Africans will face a fourth wave of infection in a few months.

In a statement on Sunday night, the EFF said lockdowns and restrictions did not contain the virus.

"Vaccines are what will save people's lives and return the economy to some sense of normality. The EFF rejects Ramaphosa lockdown that seeks to imprison us while he continues to mismanage state resources. We will only support measures based on the rapid rollout of vaccines."

The party will "not comply [with] the dictates of Ramaphosa and will continue with our political programmes and mobilisation" ahead of the October elections, the statement said.

"Refusing us as a political party the necessary space and constitutional right to stand for elections and persuade people to vote for the EFF is illegal and will never be accepted. No politician, worse, a president of a political party, must be allowed to ban and stop political gatherings of other political parties. It is unconstitutional to ban political gatherings," the EFF said.

IN FULL | 'We're in the grip of a devastating wave' - Ramaphosa's dire warning as SA moves to Level 4

According to the red berets, the president is "using lockdowns and restrictions to manage the inevitable, but coming, removal of the ANC from power in all municipalities".

The FF Plus said the government was responsible for the third wave and that the healthcare system was not ready to deal with a surge of Covid-19 cases - more than a year after the first case was reported.

"The government must especially take responsibility for the fact that very few South Africans have, to date, been vaccinated so far and for the slim hope that herd immunity will be achieved soon. The target of a vaccination rate of 70% by the end of the current year is now completely out of reach with less than 4% of the population vaccinated," said FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald.

Vaccine rollout

He added that South African and businesses, such as restaurants, were suffering because of the government's "incompetence", and added that banning travel ban to and from Gauteng was a step in the right direction, although it was too little.

Good party secretary-general Brett Herron echoed calls for a strengthened vaccine rollout.

"The lockdown was unavoidable as the third wave resurgence appears to be larger and more impactful on healthcare services than the first and second waves. The failure of South Africans to contain the spread of the virus is disappointing," Herron said.

He said:

The impact of this new hard lockdown will be devastating to our economic recovery and several business sectors.

The inequitable and shortage of supply of vaccines is a failure of global leadership and must be addressed urgently by a patent waiver, Herron added.

"In the meantime, there are about 20 vaccines approved for use around the world, and the South African government must be pursuing the possibility to extend our access to vaccines so that the vaccine programme can be fast-tracked," he said.

"Our vaccine programme has been haphazard and undermined by unforeseen setbacks with both the AstraZeneca vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine we had relied on as part of our vaccine programme. Vaccines should be easily, readily and abundantly available."

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