South Africa

COLUMN: ‘Move to lockdown level 3 is a mistake, Mr President’

Elvis Masoga (resident political analyst).

South Africa’s response to the novel Coronavirus has become terminally substandard, unscientific and gravely misguided. As head of the country’s National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), president Cyril Ramaphosa is beginning to lose his technocratic brilliance. Since early March when the ferocious pandemic hit our country, the president has provided inspirational stewardship to our nation. His stringent lockdown measures and scientific interventions have enabled our country to swiftly contain the spread of Covid-19.

The nationwide lockdown imposed by Ramaphosa as from 26 March until 30 April had massively ‘flattened the curve’ of the transmission of the pandemic. But as from 23 April, president’s Covid-19 strategies have been misguided and lacking in scientific rationalism.

His decision to relax the lockdown restrictions from level five to level four on 1 May was premature and disingenuous. To validate my point, from 4 May until 18 May, the aggregate infection rate of Covid-19 has more than doubled in the country. During the level five lockdown period, the infection rate averaged below 250 reported cases per day. But from 8 to 18 May, the country’s aggregate infection rate has averaged almost 650 cases per day.

The worst-case scenario unfolded on 16 and 17 May, where the country’s daily infection cases increased by 831 and 1 160 cases respectively. Worse than that, our Covid-19 mortality rates have more than doubled in the last 18 days. Despite these empirically frightening figures, on Wednesday, 13 May, Ramaphosa announced that the country would move to level three by the end of May.

The president is dangerously dragging our 67 million-strong nation into the gritty hallows of a slaughterhouse (Covid-19). It is apparently observable that the president is no longer heeding credible advice from top medical scientists, virologists and epidemiologists. Just like US president Donald Trump, Ramaphosa is committing a catastrophic blunder by his ignorance of scientific modelling projections.

Any premature easing of lockdown restrictions would certainly aggravate the rate of infection and transmission of Covid-19. Some years, ago when I was an undergraduate student at the University of Limpopo, our lecturer once cautioned: “In the universe of politics, there is nothing more disastrous than a leader whose decisions are based on unscientific and falsified presumptions.”

Oh Mighty God, please help us!


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