A blog by Wandisile Sebezo.
To open the economy or not? That is the question Mr President.
In a highly anticipated address to the nation on Wednesday 13, President Ramaphosa missed an opportunity to provide direction on the state of the economy, which is in a state of disaster thanks to the nationwide lockdown.
The president acknowledged that the main reason for the lockdown in its initial phase was to flatten the curve and curb the spread of the virus, and that it has relatively achieved that.
However on Wednesday night when the rest of the country sat down to watch and listen to the President, South Africa wanted to know what’s the way forward; are we going to level three or not, will the economy be opened or not?
These were what South Africans were waiting to hear, but the President was vague. Although he announced that by May 30 we will know where we stand as a country in this regard, citing that he still needs to consult, one gets the impression that there’s no plan in place, that we are making it up as we go along.
The reality is that the advent of COVID-19 dealt a huge blow to the economy, and with it our livelihoods.
There are two issues at play here; it’s us taking this virus seriously and the imminent economic devastation that comes with the lockdown; and the question is, how do we find the balance?
The national lockdown meant people can’t go to work. As a result many businesses have closed, and some won’t come back to life. This here is economic devastation of the nationwide lockdown, and if not arrested soon, it will lead to more hunger and quite possibly, pandemonium on the streets as people will scramble for resources just to survive.
People are more likely to die from starvation than from COVID-19 at this rate.
Government seems to support the opening of the economy, otherwise they wouldn’t have introduced the lockdown levels, and it just needs to do away with some of the dictatorial tendencies in some of the cabinet ministers.
It all goes down to human behaviour – if we can master cleanliness, personal hygiene and apply strict social distancing, we’ll be in a better position to beat this virus.
A country cannot support its vulnerable population if does not have the resources to do so, and the only way to avail those resources is by having the economy functioning again.
With the disastrous distribution of food parcels by government and most public representatives and councilors caught with their fingers in the cookie jar stealing from the poor, not only does the state lack capacity, it is clear it cannot feed the nation on its own.
So, even this lefty agrees; it’s the economy stupid.