Opposition parties react to Ramaphosa's COVID-19 relief plan

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a R500-billion relief package to support the economy and the vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a special address to the nation, Ramaphosa announced "a massive social and economic support package of R500-billion, which amounts to about 10 percent of our GDP."

"The impact of the coronavirus requires an extraordinary coronavirus budget... the scale of this emergency programme is historical," he said.

READ: Ramaphosa announces 6-months coronavirus relief grant

Ramaphosa said South Africa was now entering the second phase of its COVID-19 response aimed at stabilising the economy, addressing the decline in supply and demand and protecting jobs.

Trade union federation Cosatu welcomed the measures, but called for big corporations to match the amount that the government has placed on the table. 

"Nothing less than a R1-trillion stimulus plan will be sufficient to turn our already bleeding economy around and save workers from the pain of skyrocketing unemployment levels," Cosatu said in a statement.

READ: SA may look to Brics bank for money as COVID-19 batters economy

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said approaching institutions such as the IMF and World Bank for the bulk of the funding for this package was "encouraging", especially "as these institutions have made available low interest, unconditional loans specifically for COVID-19 relief."

"It is also encouraging to hear Ramaphosa speak of a phased re-opening of the economy following on a risk-adjusted approach based on scientific evidence," Steenhuisen said.

"This is essentially the Smart Lockdown plan the DA proposed. We look forward to the details of this plan."

The Economic Freedom Fighters released a media statement, welcoming the core of the aspects announced on social relief but said they would be waiting for the details on economic measures Ramaphosa would announce during the week.

READ: EFF MPs, MPLs to contribute portion of salaries to Solidarity Fund

The EFF stated they would like to see the distribution of food be facilitated out of political hands to prevent corruption.

The party opposes the re-opening of the economy should it put people in danger and warned against accepting loans by the IMF and World Bank.

The Freedom Front Plus said the unlocking of the economy is necessary.

It said attention should be paid to people who were not economically vulnerable before the pandemic who have are facing economic difficulties now.

South Africa is in its fourth week of a five-week lockdown imposed from 25 March.

The country has so far reported 3,465 coronavirus infections and 58 people have died.

- Coronavirus Hotline Number: 0800 029 999 from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday

Help protect your loved ones by sharing this official South African government COVID-19 service with your family, friends and community.

Send HI to 0600 123 456 on WhatsApp.

The NICD has another Clinician Hotline to improve #COVID19 communication and support for healthcare providers. The Clinician Hotline is 0800 11 1131, operating 24 hrs. The Public Hotline is 0800 029 999 also operating 24hrs.