South Africans await Level 3 as the President talks to a troubled nation
By Seth Meyer
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 5 of VARSITY News.
The president’s latest address on the 13th of May raised the topic of Level 3 that so many South Africans wanted to hear about, looking forward to a potential announcement of an easing of restrictions in a lockdown under which many are growing increasingly fatigued, and with which the economy has been significantly impacted.
The tone of Cyril Ramaphosa’s words were reconciliatory and grateful towards South Africans. Ramaphosa reiterated that the lockdown “was absolutely necessary” and told citizens that the government’s response had been led by experts, as well as guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO). Ramaphosa went on to justify the lockdown, saying that the death toll would have been “eight times higher than what it is at the moment” and “80 000 South Africans could have been infected by now”. Ramaphosa cited these numbers based on government modelling and predictions.
On the topic of Level 3, Ramaphosa only suggested it as a probability towards the end of May and, even then, not an entire nation-wide easing of restrictions. As is stands from what the president has said, it seems that the government will plan for most of South Africa to move down to Level 3 restrictions by the end of May, with areas that have high infections remaining at Level 4. The president noted several municipalities and metros, such as Cape Town, as areas of concern. Ramaphosa reported on several aspects of government response to the pandemic, such as the Solidarity Fund, and voiced concern over increased reports of gender-based violence.
Ramaphosa’s address, the most recent of several throughout the course of the pandemic, has not been unanimously praised. Previously, the President’s speeches have been lauded by South Africans for showing clear and decisive action, with a unifying tone. Now, many South Africans have scorned the address for not containing any real substance and have criticised Ramaphosa, claiming he has not properly explained the reasoning behind government actions.
The current infection rate in South Africa stands at 18 003, with 339 deaths.