Point of departure
The following is EOSA’s position concerning the lockdown as a measure to combat the spread of the Covid 19 virus:
- It is false to be locked into the binary notion that it is either about saving lives or about growing the economy. That dichotomy is based on the incorrect assumptions that:
- economic decline will not have any impact on the well-being of people and that there will be no threat to the wellbeing and livelihoods of people in a contracting and stagnant economy, or
- a society that is ravaged by a virus that causes overnight the deaths of thousands of entrepreneurs, employers, employees and customers will not have a negative impact on the economy.
- EOSA is committed to the guaranteed constitutional right to freedom of movement and choice. The lock-down regulations that nullify these rights are dangerous to more than the lives and dignity of people (think about the abuses by members of the police and the defence force) and the livelihoods of people (the damage to the economy, businesses and the government’s budget deficit). The regulations are in fact dangerous for the well-being of our democracy.
- A balance should therefore be sought: regulations should promote and protect both lives and livelihoods and all these should be tested against the constitutional guarantees.
- As and when the constitutional freedoms are impacted upon by regulations (as is currently the case) full disclosure is required so that the premises on which the measures to combat the perceived threat can be evaluated and tested in the court of public opinion. In addition, parliament and its committees should be seen to be able to exercise oversight on all administrative actions based on decrees issued under the state of disaster.
During full lock-down, the government had not – based on information in the public domain – paid sufficient consideration for the implications of the regulations on the economic well-being of society.