The permanent delegate to the NCOP (National Council of Provinces), Mr Dennis Ryder, said 90 days after the outbreak of the pandemic, the nation was united against this unknown threat. Later, he said, the state of disaster was manipulated to remove the rights of South African citizens. He said unilateral decisions were made.

Furthermore, he said: “Worst of all, the President was overridden by a minister and alarming regulations were decreed. As a result, the credibility of the government was lost.”

Mr Ryder alleged that the renewed lockdown regulations affected company taxes and other related taxes. “Now the demand for products is way, way down. Currently, seven million more people are unemployed and this will drastically affect the economy,” he said.

According to Ms Maurencia Gillion, who is also a permanent delegate to the NCOP, said saving lives and livelihood is critical to ensure that there is a balance between the capacitation of the health sector to ensure that the spread of the pandemic does not bring a halt to economic activity. She commended the government for its interventions to mitigate the pandemic’s effect on the people.     

Ms S’lindile Luthuli alleged during the debate that the government failed to respond to the communities of Mtubatuba in KwaZulu-Natal, Khayelitsha and Matatiele – and it prioritised economic gains before people’s lives. “This follows the opening of restaurants and movie theatres, and just now the government will allow people to go to music concerts and to church in big numbers, and it will also open up contact sport.”

She said what is even worse here in the Western Cape is that the Western Cape government has advocated for the opening of the economy way too early so that the poor could serve them in their homes, restaurants, and bars, while they (the poor) are dying of the pandemic.

“Why do we allow the sale of alcohol when we are at the peak of the pandemic? The government must not speak as though the situation is under control when it’s not. People are on their own, the situation of their health is in their own hands,” she said. 

Mr Stephanus du Toit said the government failed to provide healthcare for people suffering from TB and HIV, and it has done so again to those infected with coronavirus. And when the governing party realised that it was losing political ground, it used the pandemic for political gains.

“Since the lockdown, radical economic transformation is regarded as a new norm, not an ideology. The governing party realised it was losing political ground due to fraud and corruption amounting to billions of rands, and used the pandemic to gain political mileage that further decided South Africans along racial lines,” he said.

Closing the debate, the Chief Whip, Mr Mohai, said the government will listen to people’s interests against available evidence. He said: “We will not glorify interest groups which come here to pretend as if they are speaking for our people, when they know that they derive their mandate from organised interest groups.”

Furthermore, he said: “We need a uniquely African response to educate people more about what to do and expect during funeral practices, schooling and caring for the elderly in our ongoing fight against the pandemic.”

By Abel Mputing

 24 June 2020