The African Christian Democratic Party calls for the immediate lifting of the lockdown restrictions on all sectors of the South African economy, while ensuring that strict hygiene conditions are in place, the party deputy president Wayne Thring says in a press statement released yesterday.
The statement continues: The ACDP is of the view that the South African economy is facing one of its worst storms ever. Prior to taking the reins from his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, it was President Cyril Ramaphosa himself who lamented over the nine wasted years under the presidency of Zuma. The estimates are that those wasted years have cost the South African economy in excess of R1 trillion. Put into perspective, that is some 20% of our GDP and about 70% of our national budget.
Many dreamed of a New Dawn, which until now has failed to materialise. Our unemployment rate is among the highest in the world, and we have the unenviable title of being the most unequal nation in the world, with a Gini coefficient in excess of 0.6, and rating agencies having downgraded our economy to junk status. It must be said that under the ruling party, poverty, inequality and unemployment have continued to grow.
The wounds inflicted on our economy until this stage were self-inflicted, where megalomaniacs plundered, raped and pillaged our fiscus with impunity. Now, to add insult to injury, we have been inflicted with a Covid-19 pandemic that has brought the global economy to a virtual standstill.
Economists predict that our economy could shrink by between 5-10%, our debt to GDP could grow from 60% to 80% in 2020, and the 6% deficit on our national budget is set to increase to 12% of GDP. Additionally, a further 1 million workers could be added to the ranks of the unemployed, taking our unemployment rate of 38%, on the expanded definition, to beyond 50% after lockdown. Furthermore, the South African Employers Association indicated that of the businesses surveyed in South Africa, 68% said they would survive a 3-week lockdown but only 28% said they would survive beyond one month.
The ACDP believes that it is time to unlock our economy and remove the onerous restrictions imposed on it. According to South African actuaries, if the lockdown is not removed soon, the mortality rate as a consequence of unemployment, malnutrition and hunger, will be 29 times worse than Covid-19 itself.
The ACDP is on record for saying, as early as April 13, that if due attention is not given to our economy, the consequences will make the Covid-19 pandemic look like a Sunday picnic. Hence, we now call for the immediate lifting of restrictions on all sectors of the economy, while simultaneously calling for these sectors to adhere to strict health protocols, to limit the spread of Covid-19.
The ACDP believes that our focus should be to protect those that are most vulnerable to Covid-19, such as the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, while applying a zonal or area-specific approach to restrictions, rather than mutilating our entire economy.