South Africa cannot afford COVID-19 relief now, says Ramaphosa
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SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa has said that the country is focusing on acquiring COVID-19 vaccines and cannot afford new relief for businesses and citizens at the moment.
In an interview on the Johannesburg-based Radio 702 on Friday, Ramaphosa said cash-strapped South Africa was expecting to fund COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, which would be expensive.
“We do not have the money, that is the simple truth,” Business Day South Africa quoted Ramaphosa as saying on Friday.
“We are constrained from a financing point of view. The relief measures we announced last year amounted to about 10 percent of our GDP, which is quite big for a little economy like ours. And right now, we are at a stage where we have to fund the vaccines, which will amount to a lot of money as well. We are constrained,” he said.
South Africa has returned to Level 3 lockdown after COVID-19 second wave wreaks havoc on the Nelson Mandela’s country. Ramaphosa has placed a ban on alcohol and social gatherings, but many young South Africans are critical of that, urging the president to un-ban it to enable them cope with the lockdown.
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Businesses are also hard hit by the lockdown. SAB, a brewer, has cancelled a R2.5 billion investment due to the ban, according to Business Day South Africa.
Ramaphosa said he hoped the restrictions would be short-lived to provide relief for citizens and businesses.
South Africa’s economy is in a deep slump. Despite exiting recession in December 2020 after slipping into it by the second quarter of the year, the economy is still hard hit by low commodity prices.
Unemployment rate reached a record 30.8 percent in September 2020, from 23.3 percent three months earlier, according to Statistics South Africa.