Africa: South Africa Will Pay the Price of Ramaphosa's Folly Regarding Religious Gatherings

opinion

On Tuesday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa undid the past two months of sacrifice and hardship South Africans have been through by announcing a resumption of religious gatherings from 1 June.

It was an almost innocuous tweet from the Presidency announcing a televised briefing on Tuesday evening at 7.30pm.

It referred to the President leading the call for a National Day of Prayer. Most were not expecting what came next. After all, Ramaphosa had addressed the nation on Sunday about the move to Level 3 of lockdown. That was calm and reasoned, though at the time of writing some confusion still exists about whether identified hotspots would also move to Level 3.

So when Ramaphosa announced that places of worship could resume gatherings on 1 June, it felt like a bolt out of the blue. After all, had the world not let out a gasp of disbelief when the notoriously irresponsible Donald Trump tweeted that religious gatherings were an "essential service"?

Ramaphosa stressed that stringent restrictions would be put in place as regards sanitising spaces, the wearing of masks and restricting gatherings to 50 people.

Thus far, Ramaphosa has led South Africa's response cautiously and in general, citizens...

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