S/Africa: Ramaphosa admits ‘missteps’, but lockdown necessary

Africa Link Special Reports

SOUTH AFRICA – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted that his government had made missteps in efforts to control the coronavirus pandemic, but the lockdown was needed to lessen the disease from spreading among the people.

The president said this recently during a virtual Question and Answer time with the country’s Members of Parliament.

“Yes, we have had missteps but we have been honest. We have disclosed information to the public. And with that, we have given information to people of our country in order to protect themselves,” Ramaphosa said.

During the current campaign to lock the country down, the South African leader said various national institutions have been seized with putting forward information without hiding anything from the people.

He added: “The lockdown allowed the country to start flattening the curve, implement adequate health responses and capacitate the health systems.”

According to the president, “in the three weeks prior to the implementation of the nationwide lockdown, the number of infections had doubled every two days.”

But during Level 5 of the lockdown -- the first stage – “this doubling time increased to 15 days. And the doubling time has been at around 12 days during Levels 4 and the current Level 3,” the president said.

He said South Africa had an opportunity to act early, and the decision to implement the lockdown was guided by steady advice, Ramaphosa said.

Speaking amid pressure from business that the lockdown should not have been imposed in the first place, the president said a prolonged delay in locking the country down “would have meant we would have missed the window of opportunity to achieve a flattening of the curve.”

"We now, really, need to reset everything" during post-Covid-19,” Ramaphosa said, adding: "The balance between saving the economy and saving lives is a very delicate one. One cannot be emphasised over the other."

South Africa’s partial reopening of the economy kicked off on 1 June under Level 3 of the lockdown restrictions saw eight million people reporting for work.