Ramaphosa defends enforcing lockdown to curb COVID-19 infections

President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasised that the government made the right decision to balance saving lives and protecting livelihoods.

President CyriL Ramaphosa. @PresidencyZA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa has once again defended government’s decision to enforce the lockdown to try and curb the increase of COVID-19 infections in the country.

Ramaphosa addressed the annual National Economic Development and Labour Council’s (Nedlac) labour school on Monday morning.

He emphasised that the government made the right decision to balance saving lives and protecting livelihoods.

The president’s sentiments come amid calls by labour and other sections of society for a reassessment of the ban on liquor sales as jobs and investment suffers.

President Ramaphosa said the restrictions, which were enforced to control the spread of COVID-19, were implemented with the knowledge that the effects of an uncontrolled pandemic could potentially cause irreversible damage to the economy.

"From the onset of this pandemic, some people have presented our response as a clear choice between containing infections and keeping our economy alive. We have found that this is a false choice. The restrictions we've had to put in place to flatten the curve have had a severe impact on the economy and employment."

Ramaphosa added that the situation could have been far worse if the pandemic was allowed to decimate the population.

Nedlac is among the many bodies, which the president has been consulting with about the various adjustments to the lockdown as it affects business, labour and community altogether.

The constituencies have not always agreed with government’s approach to the crisis.

WATCH: SA’s first batch of COVID-19 vaccines to arrive today

WE PROMISE TO BE MORE TRANSPARENT

As the government prepares to receive the first consignment of COVID-19 vaccines, Ramaphosa has conceded that they have not always been sufficiently transparent about the country’s vaccination plans.

South Africans were largely in the dark about the programme’s various steps of implementation until last week with some provinces yet to share their plans publicly.

The president calls the vaccination programme a society-wide campaign, yet mystery surrounded much of the government’s plans and efforts to acquire, store and distribute the shots until only recently.

Following criticism that the lack of transparency was problematic, Ramaphosa now said everyone would be involved in the process to get 40 million South Africans eventually inoculated.

“I can assure you that we are making every effort to not only improve communication but to ensure that all social partners are more directly in the development and implementation of our plan.”

He used the Nedlac platform to appeal to business and labour to define their roles in the vaccination efforts.

Business has committed to availing facilities for vaccinating employees while others will be making financial contributions towards purchases.

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