ANC condemns opposition’s call to end lockdown amid pandemic

South African Defense Forces patrol downtown Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday, March 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay).
FILE PHOTO: Residents look out of the window as a worker wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant to sanitise parts of the Alexandra’s Madala Men’s Hostel during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to try to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Alexandra, South Africa April 1, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party on Saturday condemned the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party’s “ill-timed and irrational” call to end the nationwide lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The levels of incitement by DA leader John Steenhuisen and the call for civil disobedience remain reckless and childish, and cannot go unchallenged, the ANC said after a virtual parliamentary caucus meeting.

“Politicizing COVID-19 interventions smacks of high levels of political immaturity and should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve,” ANC Chief Whip Pemmy Majodina said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

The lockdown measures have been taken in the paramount interest of ensuring the preservation of life, an issue that does not seem to matter to the DA, Majodina said, adding ending such measures would be “suicidal.”

“As the ANC Caucus, we cannot afford to lower our guard,” she said.

South Africa has so far recorded over 9,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 186 deaths. The Western Cape, the only province run by the DA, remains the country’s epicenter of the pandemic, having reported 4,809 cases and 95 deaths as of Saturday.

Although the country eased the nationwide lockdown from level five to level four on May 1, allowing certain businesses to resume operations, the ANC has urged Cape Town and other high-risk areas in the Western Cape to be placed back under level-five restrictions.

On Friday, Steenhuisen said the lockdown was unnecessary as “the real tragedy playing out here is no longer the coronavirus, but the lockdown itself.”

Describing the DA as being bent on undermining the nation’s anti-epidemic efforts through a filibustering posture, Majodina said that “over the past five weeks, most South Africans have adhered to the lockdown regulations and as a result, we have managed to slow the spread of the virus.”

“We are also mindful that dozens of other countries have imposed curfews such as the one that is currently in place in South Africa,” she said.

“We must continue to stick to the World Health Organization preventative measures,” she said, urging “all peace loving and patriotic South Africans to stay focused on the bigger goal of flattening the curve and saving lives.”

The ANC calls for sanity to prevail within the DA and for its leader to desist from making short-sighted calls when the moment requires calm heads and decisive leadership, she said, adding Steenhuisen must focus on what is happening in the Western Cape and must not mislead the country.

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