The big question on everyone’s lips is whether the National Command Council (NCC) will advise President Cyril Ramaphosa to extend the 21-day national lockdown. Ramaphosa is expected to meet with the NCC over the coming days to do a “scientific assessment” on how well the lockdown period is serving the people of South Africa. The 21-days are coming to an end next week, and many poor South Africans are excited by that fact.
It can be said without a doubt that it is mostly poor people who continue to be heavily impacted by this lockdown. Low-income earners such as waiters, cooks, delivery guys, cleaners, construction workers, etc continue to feel the pinch of zero income. It has been almost two weeks without any form of income in their homes and that means they had to stare poverty in the eyes.
Many pleaded with the national government to reduce the days. Whatever they had for survival in this period has slowly depleted. This has already forced some to contravene the lockdown regulations to go hustle for food and money on the streets. On the flip side, the number of people tested positive for Coronavirus pandemic and of fatalities continues to rise. The government’s primary intention with this lockdown is to contain the spread of the virus. However, it continues to prove a difficult mission to successfully flatten the curve.
Since the lockdown kicked in, the virus has made its way to townships in the Western Cape and Gauteng provinces. The risk of the virus further causing havoc and increasing its victims in those townships is very high. Social distancing is a difficult exercise to perform in such densely populated communities. While many will rightly say that the government put itself in this situation due to its failure to act on time, it does beg the question of whether Ramaphosa should continue with safety measures to fight the pandemic and extend the lockdown period with a few more weeks or should he take the risk and unlock the economic activities.
While the common consensus will be one of saving lives more than anything else, this will seriously mean the government and private sectors will have to join hands in making sure that the needs and livelihood of the vulnerable groups are taken care of. Those billions donated must be spent on the less fortunate because it has not been that case thus far.
Whatever decision the President will take in this regard, have to be one that will have to be in the interest of the poor people of South Africa.