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Ramaphosa commends business, politicians as debate over shutdown rages on

The President is expected to address the country on Sunday afternoon, amid calls for even more stringent action to clamp down on the spread of COVID-19.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa announces his new Cabinet on 29 May 2019 at the Union Buildings. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa has once again commended opposition party leaders for supporting government efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus.

The President met the leaders of various organisations including Congress of the People, Inkatha Freedom Party and the United Democratic Movement at the Union Buildings on Sunday morning.

The opposition leaders have appealed to South Africans to comply with regulations including restrictions on religious and other gatherings.

Ramaphosa says unity is key.

“This being a national challenge, it’s important that all political parties should be seen to be working unison in ensuring that we address this challenge collectively, as a nation.

At the same time, Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said the President also met business formations including Business Unity South Africa and the black business council to discuss economic interventions.

“It was to consolidate a single approach to the economy, to ensure that we look after the vulnerable and take into account the needs of our consumers and of our people.”

WILL RAMAPHOSA ANNOUNCE A SHUTDOWN?

The President is expected to address the country on Sunday afternoon, amid calls for even more stringent action to clamp down on the spread of COVID-19.

After the gathering with business and political leaders, Ramaphosa will now meet with the national command council that's tasked with overseeing the implementation of measures to deal with the coronavirus in the country.

The team will consider whether the interventions that are currently in place are sufficient and what further regulations are required if any.

Last Sunday, Ramaphosa announced a raft of measures including a prohibition of gatherings exceeding 100 people, and a travel ban from countries hardest-hit by the disease.

With a debate raging among South Africans about whether government should implement a full lockdown, the presidency has refuted online claims about a shutdown of the country.

The first African country to lockdown was Tunisia, and now Rwanda has followed suit.

Now South Africans have started asking President Ramaphosa when our country, with 240 cases, will reassess its status.

China’s lockdown was labelled draconian, but that country maintains it flattened the curve.

European countries like Italy have deployed the military to enforce their shutdowns.

One Twitter user says unless debt payments and rent are suspended for a few months, people will keep defying rules like social distancing, self-quarantine and isolation because they have to pay the bills.