President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: ELMOND JIYANE
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: ELMOND JIYANE

The president says the lockdown has saved 1,600 lives. In reality those 1,600 people who may have been dead by now are going to die anyway when the lockdown eases off or ends, since we cannot keep the lockdown forever.

It cannot make the virus go away, or prevent anyone dying from it. All it could ever do was buy time to prepare the health system for the extra load the virus would impose. As things stand the hospitals are not even busy.  

This indicates that we could be opening up much quicker than we are. We are probably not yet at the apex of this pandemic, and there may be much worse to come, but there is no point in delaying things further. Eventually the curve will go down, but the sooner we go through whatever we have to, the better.  

Members of the scientific advisory committee say there is no scientific basis for the lockdown as we have it. We should open up at the rate our health system can cope with new cases, and we haven’t even got near that point yet.

If the hospitals do get too busy we can build more on a temporary basis so that we can keep opening up as fast as possible. Shutting down our economy is much more costly than providing extra emergency hospital facilities.  

It would be better if the president took charge of all decisions. The command council, his whole cabinet and the outside scientific experts should be his advisers, but he should have the final say.

This is like a wartime situation that requires a strong leader who can be flexible as circumstances change and new evidence is presented, and act quickly and decisively according to his own wisdom, no matter how unpopular or controversial some of the decisions may be.

Even if mistakes are made along the way it is better to have a commander-in-chief in charge than to rely on a dysfunctional collective leadership.

Jeremy Gordon
Sea Point 

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