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Ramaphosa insists lockdown rules are based on science as court challenges mount

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government always strives to put human lives and dignity of the people first.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government always strives to put human lives and dignity of the people first.
Image: Supplied

President Cyril Ramaphosa insists that the Covid-19 lockdown regulations are based on scientific and economic data.

This as pressure mounts on the government to ease the lockdown to prevent catastrophic damage to the country's economy.

Ramaphosa wrote this in his weekly newsletter - From the Desk of the President.

The government has been subjected to multiple court actions questioning some of the lockdown regulations while several organisations such as the DA, FF Plus and AfriForum have approached the courts to end the lockdown.

The DA is further seeking an order that declares invalid the Disaster Management Act, on which the lockdown is based.

In his newsletter, Ramaphosa says he understands it is everyone's right to go to court. Furthermore, he says the government has taken all criticism of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic on the chin.

But the government is confident that it has made the right call, informed by scientific data.

Members of the SA Defence Force (SANDF) were deployed across the country on March 27 2020. Soldiers took to the streets to help enforce lockdown regulations in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus. TimesLIVE spent some time on duty with the SANDF in Alexandra.

“We have consistently maintained that we rely on scientific, economic and empirical data when it comes to making decisions and formulating regulations around our coronavirus response,” wrote Ramaphosa.

“To the greatest extent possible under these challenging circumstances, we aim for consultation and engagement. We want all South Africans to be part of this national effort. The voices of ordinary citizens must continue to be heard at a time as critical as this.

“The coronavirus pandemic and the measures we have taken to combat it have taken a heavy toll on our people. It has caused huge disruption and hardship.

“Although we can point to the progress we have made in delaying the transmission of the virus, there is still a long way to go. The weeks and months ahead will be difficult and will demand much more from our people.”

Over and above being guided by scientific evidence, said Ramaphosa, the government is also following all the prescripts of the constitution.

This as the government continues to face accusations that some of its lockdown regulations are akin to the rules of authoritarian government regimes.

If it is not law enforcement being found to be overreaching and victimising the vulnerable, it is small businesses that are folding because of the economic effects of the lockdown. Many employed people have had their salaries cut, others have lost their jobs altogether.

Said Ramaphosa: “As we navigate these turbulent waters, our constitution is our most important guide and our most valued protection. Our robust democracy provides the strength and the resilience we need to overcome this deep crisis.

“Just as government appreciates that most court applicants are motivated by the common good, so too should we recognise that the decisions taken by government are made in good faith and are meant to advance, and not to harm, the interests of South Africans.

“Our foremost priority remains to save lives. Our every decision is informed by the need to advance the rights to life and dignity as set out in our constitution.

“We will continue to welcome different – even dissenting – viewpoints around our national coronavirus response. All viewpoints aid us and help us to work better and smarter.”