David Litt, a former speechwriter for then U.S. President Barack Obama, has said the spread of COVID-19 which has so far claimed nearly 100,000 lives in the United States is a failure of democracy at the root.
“It’s become commonplace to refer to COVID-19 as ‘the worst public health crisis of our lifetimes.’ But what has cost the United States so many lives and jobs during the pandemic is not, at root, a failure of public health. It’s a failure of democracy,” Litt wrote in an article published by Time magazine this week.
“Poll after poll has shown that a clear majority of Americans trust, want our leaders to heed the experts’ advice. Yet that hasn’t happened. We were far too slow to implement social-distancing guidelines — a delay epidemiologists found is responsible for 90 percent of U.S. coronavirus deaths,” he said.
“Now we’re acting far too quickly to reopen the economy,” he added.
Dozens of U.S. states have rolled out reopening plans in late April, with Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas among the first to allow certain nonessential businesses to resume operations.
The writer pointed out that lower-income and non-white Americans are those most likely to suffer from the U.S. government’s flailing response to the coronavirus.
Citing a report analyzing the changes in the U.S. political map in recent years from the University of Chicago’s Law Review, Litt said “Americans’ political power has been further diminished.”
“As we battle the coronavirus, American lives depend on a successful government response. But with rare exceptions, House Members’ jobs do not,” he said.
“In early March, for example, as the virus was spreading, the first 15 U.S. states to report cases of the coronavirus accounted for 56 percent of America’s population but only 30 percent of America’s senators. No wonder the Senate was initially slow to act,” he said.
So as of Friday night, the United States has reported over 1.6 million cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Furthermore, Litt said “the corporations’ increasing clout with policymakers” has pushed the U.S. government into acting more slowly and reopening more quickly than the American people believe is safe.
That capitalistic influence has more influence on policymaking than the people’s welfare, in Litt’s view, is “no surprise.”
“From the way we manage elections to the way we fund campaigns, from the congressional districts we draw to the lobbyists we include in the policymaking process, the story is the same,” he said.
“The American republic is a government of fewer people, by fewer people, for fewer people than at any time in the past half-century. And We, the People, are suffering because of it,” Litt concluded.
Litt is the author of “Democracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn’t, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think” as well as “Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years.”
Buhari condoles with media industry over Waheed Bakare’s death
President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with the media industry, particularly Nigeria Union of Journalists and Nigeria Guild of Editors, over the passing of the Saturday Editor of New Telegraph, Waheed Bakare.
The President’s condolence message was released by Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, in Abuja on Monday.
President Buhari also sent condolences to family of the deceased and management of New Telegraph Newspapers.
The president described the editor’s death as a collective loss to the media and the nation that he served passionately with his talent.
He prayed that God would receive the soul of the departed, and comfort all that mourned him.
Senegal reports 83 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, total reaching 3,130
Senegal’s Ministry of Health and Social Action on Monday reported 83 more confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 3,130 in the country.
A total of 1,091 tests were conducted in the previous 24 hours, he said.
An additional 59 patients recovered from the disease, bring the total of recoveries to 1,515. The number of patients in intensive care units rose to 15, Diouf said.
The death toll remains at 35 across the country.
Senegal, which reported the first confirmed case on March 2, now has a total of 3,130 cases, including 2,761 follow-up contact cases, 89 imported ones and 280 community-transmission ones.
President Macky Sall on Sunday urged citizens to stay vigilant and observe preventive measures to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
Although the situation appears to be stabilizing in the country, Senegal faces a possible rise of imported cases from neighboring countries.
Its northern neighbor Mauritania reported a surge of confirmed cases last week, while Mali on Monday reported nine new cases in the western region of Kayes, right next to the border with Senegal.
Across Senegal’s southern border, Guinea-Bissau on Sunday reported 64 positive cases out of 84 samples tested.
Senegal’s state of emergency over the pandemic, declared on March 24, was extended early May to last through June 2. Residents are subject to a 9 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew and required to wear masks at all public places.
Trump warns he may move Republican convention site from North Carolina
U.S. President Donald Trump warns that he may move the Republican National Convention from North Carolina set for August if the event faces state social distancing restrictions as a result of the coronavirus.
Some have raised concerns that the large formal nominating conventions that are typically packed with delegates could raise safety issues.
Trump said on Twitter that if Democratic Governor Roy Cooper does not immediately answer “whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied,” then the party will find “with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site.”
The conventions include prime-time TV speeches that serve to kick off the final sprint toward the November presidential election.
The Republican event is set to start Aug. 24 in Charlotte.
Cooper’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Democratic National Convention, which was postponed by a month because of the coronavirus, is set to begin Aug. 17 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
A spokeswoman for the DNC event said earlier this month “we continue to remain in constant communication with federal, state, and local public health officials and will follow their guidance to determine how many people can safely gather in Milwaukee this August.”
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)
China-Thailand railway agreement likely be signed in October: Thai transport minister
The “Contract 2.3” for the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed railway between Thailand and China is likely to be signed in October, said Thai Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob on Monday.
The minister said the Thai and Chinese team had agreed that the contract, estimated at 50.6 billion baht (1.58 billion U.S. dollars), involves the cost of purchasing track, electricity systems and machinery, as well as procurement of train carriages and training.
Under the contract, 80 percent of the payment will be made in the U.S. currency and the remaining 20 percent in Thai baht.
There is a total of 14 contracts involved in the 253-km rail route from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima in the Northeast as a part of the Sino-Thai high-speed train project, linking Bangkok to Nong Khai, bordering Laos.
The minister said that Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will preside over the signing ceremony at the Government House, and according to the plan, the first 253-km leg of the railway will commence service in year 2023.
N1.9bn Karu mega bus park will ease traffic congestion along Maraba – Abuja road, says Gov. Sule
Gov. Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State says the N1.9 billion Karu mega bus terminal, when completed, will ease traffic congestion on the Mararaba- Abuja corridor.
Sule, who congestion spoke on Monday after inspecting ongoing work at the site of the project at Mararaba in Karu Local Government Area of the state, said various motor parks in the area would be collapsed into the bus terminal.
According to him, the terminal will serve the FCT, Plateau, Benue, Kaduna and other states , when completed.
He added that the choice of Karu for the project was due to its proximity to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and large population in the area with overwhelming transportation demand.
Sule, who inspected the project as part of activities to mark his one year in office, expressed satisfaction with the quality of work so far.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the governor was taken round the project by the Project Consultant, Mr Shehu Tukur, who assured him of quality job.
Eid-el Fitr: Onyeama donates palliatives to Muslim community, 10,000 households in Enugu
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, on Monday in Enugu donated palliative items through his foundation, ‘Kwusike Foundation’, to the Muslim community in the state.
The minister also said that the move was to enable the Muslim faithful in the state to have an eventful Eid-el-Fitr celebration.
Responding, the Leader of the Hausa Community in the state, Alhaji Abubakar Sambo, said that the gesture could not have come at a better time than when they were celebrating Sallah.
Sambo said that the pandemic had affected their means of livelihood and well-being and commended Onyeama for the intervention.
“We have sacrificed a lot as a result of this pandemic and I pray that God will continue to unite us and give our leaders the wisdom to lead,” he said.
Meanwhile, Onyeama said that he had taken delivery of no fewer than 10,000 bags of 10kg rice which was the third tranche of his intervention in the state.
The minister said that he discovered that a lot of vulnerable people in the rural communities were not reached during the distribution of the first and second tranches of the palliative items.
“In this third tranche, our target is to supply no fewer than 10,000 households with food items and protective equipment,” he said.
Onyeama said that the process would continue until the entire state was covered.
Edited By: Bayo Sekoni/Donald Ugwu (NAN)
Japan lifts state of emergency over coronavirus for entire country, ushers in era of “new normal”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday lifted the COVID-19 state of emergency in the five remaining prefectures still under restrictions, including Tokyo, as the spread of the virus has largely been brought under control.
“Today the government will lift the state of emergency across the nation. We’ve set some of the most strict criteria in the world to lift the declaration, and we concluded that prefectures across the country have met that standard,” the Japanese leader told a press conference.
The five prefectures that had remained under restrictions were Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Hokkaido.
The lifting of the state of emergency came after the government’s coronavirus advisory panel showed support for the move earlier in the day.
The emergency measures were issued first for Tokyo, Osaka and five other urban areas on April 7, before being expanded nationwide in mid-April and with the deadline extended thereafter until the end of May.
The advisory panel had been focusing on criteria for the emergency period being lifted which was based around the number of newly reported cases over the past week, the availability of medical resources, and the capacity to provide virus tests and monitor the spread of the virus.
“The advisory panel has agreed that all prefectures no longer need to be under a state of emergency and that lifting the declaration is appropriate,” Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said, adding that the situation would be closely monitored and reviewed every three weeks.
Nishimura also said that social and economic activities, including large-scale events, would be phased back in, although people would still be asked not to travel across prefecture lines until the end of the month.
The government, while showing caution amid the coronavirus pandemic, has been keen to see the economy fully reopened as the five prefectures that had remained under emergency restrictions account for around one-third of the country’s gross domestic product.
The Cabinet Office said the economy shrank by an annualized real 3.4 percent in the January-March period from the previous quarter.
The decrease in the quarter corresponds to a 0.9-percent decline on a seasonally adjusted quarterly basis, the Cabinet Office said.
The Japanese leader is now tasked with ushering in a “new normal” for the society, which balances the rejuvenation of the economy with guarding against an explosive second wave of COVID-19 infections.
Abe had said earlier that another state of emergency could be declared if the country is faced with a second wave of infections.
“Our businesses and daily routines will be completely disrupted if we continue with strict curbs on social and economic activity. From now on, it’s important to think about how we can conduct business and live our lives while still controlling the risk of infection,” Abe said.
He said wearing face masks in public should be kept up and social distancing measures maintained. Abe also said that teleworking does not need to be immediately halted as medical experts have warned that relaxing too many restrictions too soon could trigger another wave of infections.
As for the greater Tokyo area, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike offered her thanks to the people for their efforts to help contain the pneumonia-causing virus, but warned them to remain cautious and not to let their guards down.
“There could be a second or third wave of infections so I need to ask the citizens of Tokyo for their continued cooperation,” Koike said.
Under Koike’s stewardship, the Tokyo metropolitan government has set out a roadmap toward resuming economic and social activities in the nation’s capital. The roadmap has been divided into three phases.
Phase one, which could kick off as soon as Tuesday, will see restrictions begin to be eased on museums and libraries. Restaurants and bars in this phase will be allowed to stay open until 10:00 p.m., beyond the previous closing time of 8:00 p.m. under the prior emergency measures.
The second phase, possibly to begin at the end of the month, involves easing the restrictions for cinemas and theaters and cram schools, while the final phase will allow restaurants to stay open until midnight and amusement parks and pachinko parlors to reopen, although high-risk businesses like karaoke bars, gyms and hostess bars will be requested to stay closed.
Professional sports, including baseball and basketball leagues, will be allowed to resume without spectators from June 19, according to the government’s latest plans issued Monday.
High schools that fall under the auspices of the Tokyo metropolitan government will be phased back in, with students rotating between classes and online learning. The number of students attending regular classes will be gradually increased, with the situation being constantly monitored, Tokyo officials said.
For the city to move to the next phase, there must be fewer than 20 daily infections on average across a week, with the percentage of untraceable cases remaining below 50 percent. The number of total weekly infections must be lower than the previous week, while the number of seriously ill, testing capacity and medical facilities’ occupancy rates will also be factored in, the officials said,
“Recently, the number of new cases in Tokyo has been relatively low. If this welcome trend continues, we may progress along the roadmap more quickly than expected. We want to be flexible,” Koike has said.
The death toll in Japan from the pneumonia-causing virus, including those from a cruise ship that had been quarantined in Yokohama, totals 864 people.
Kwara records 4 new COVID-19 cases
The Kwara government says it has recorded four new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 74, as of May 24.
Mr Rafiu Ajakaye, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor and Spokesman of the state Technical Committee on COVID-19, made this known in a statement issued on Monday in Ilorin.
Ajakaye said that out of the 1,112 tests so far conducted, 1,030 tested negative for the coronavirus, while 44 were active out of the remaining 74 cases.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), in its verified website, stated that 34 patients had so far been discharged and one death recorded in the state.
Edited By: Joe Idika and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq
Bayelsa deputy speaker donates palliatives to constituency
Mr Michael Ogbere, the Deputy Speaker of Bayelsa State House of Assembly has donated palliatives of bags of cassava flakes (garri) to Ekeremor Constituency 3 which he represents.
Ogbere at the ceremony in Ekeremor on Monday noted that both the rural and urban communities of the constituency from the coastal end were locked down due to the viral Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He assured the people that the challenges at hand were temporary and would soon pass away by the grace of God.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that during the ceremony, Mr Moses Akinfe, the Special Adviser to the deputy speaker, said the donation was made to ameliorate the excruciating negative effects of the ongoing interstates lock-down on the people.
NAN reports that constituency members from Ekeremor Ward 11 and Ward 12 took delivery of the items evenly distributed to all the 23 riverine communities through the leadership of the Community Development Chairmen.
Edited By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Donald Ugwu (NAN)
Tanzanian police kill 7 suspected armed gangsters in business capital
Tanzanian police killed seven suspected armed gangsters in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam after their robbery attempt became abortive, a senior police officer said on Monday.
The suspected gangsters were killed at midnight on Sunday as they planned to raid a warehouse for construction materials in the business capital, said Lazaro Mambosasa, the Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander.
“Acting on intelligence reports, a special anti-crime police task force trailed a vehicle in which the suspected bandits were driving towards Mwenge area,” Mambosasa told a news conference.
He said when the suspected gangsters realized that they were being followed by the police they started firing at the law enforcers who fired back killing the suspects on the spot.
“When police searched the vehicle used by the suspects they found a pistol with three rounds of ammunition, two gas cylinders, machetes, a mobile telephone and a rope,” said Mambosasa.
He said the gas cylinders were to be used for breaking into the warehouse.
On May 11, police gunned down four suspected armed robbers after an exchange of fire in the east African nation’s western region of Kigoma.
Merkel urges vigilance as officials probe restaurant virus outbreak
Health officials in north-western Germany were pursuing an investigation into a coronavirus outbreak at a restaurant in Lower Saxony on Monday, as the number of people testing positive rose.
Seven people initially tested positive for coronavirus after visiting the Alte Scheune restaurant in Moormerland, a municipality in the district of Leer in the north-western state, earlier this month.
That number had increased to 14 by Sunday, while four additional cases of people who had contracted the virus since then were also reported.
A total of 118 people have been placed under quarantine at home, up from an initial 50.
Regional authorities in Leer district said it was likely that the four additional infections had occurred following visits to the restaurant.
The outbreak is the first to have taken place in a restaurant since they were allowed to reopen in stages across Germany’s 16 states from May 9.
Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the governments of Germany’s states to be “courageous and watchful” as they ease restrictions imposed since mid-March to contain the pandemic.
Speaking through her spokesman Steffen Seibert, Merkel backed continuing “binding instructions” on social distancing, restriction of contact and hygiene rules.
Recommendations were insufficient, Seibert said, as federal officials continued discussions with their state-level counterparts on how to proceed with further easing.
The number of cases of the novel coronavirus had risen to more than 178,500 by Monday morning, according to figures from the individual states compiled by dpa.
At least 8,252 people diagnosed with the Sars-CoV-2 pathogen have died, up from 8,229 on Sunday morning.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Burundian ruling party’s Evariste Ndayishimiye wins presidential election: provisional results
Provisional results show Burundian ruling party’s Evariste Ndayishimiye wins the presidential election held on May 20, the country’s electoral body said here on Monday.
Ndayishimiye from the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy won 68.72 percent of votes in the presidential election, followed by National Council for Liberty’s Agathon Rwasa who got 24.19 percent of votes, said the National Independent Electoral Commission.
Burundi voters went to the polls last Wednesday to elect a new president, members of the National Assembly, and district councillors.
3-storey building collapses in Lagos, says LASEMA
Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, the Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), on Monday confirmed the partial collapse of a three-storey building situated at No.6 Olonode Str., Ebute Metta in Lagos.
Oke-Osanyintolu told News Agency of Nigeria that after evacuating all the residents, preliminary report on the collapsed building showed that it had been “severely distressed with the reinforcement’’.
He said that the building having corroded had visible cracks on the walls and pillars due to lack of maintenance.
Oke-Osanyintolu further revealed that all the slabs of the building were weak, making part of it to collapse at about 9 a.m. on Monday.
He said that there was neither loss of life nor injury.
According to him, all the occupants have been evacuated from the premises, while the entire building has been cordoned off to prevent any secondary incident.
Edited By: Johnson Eyiangho//Donald Ugwu (NAN)
Bulgaria seizes over 100 kg of heroin at border, three arrested
Bulgarian customs officers at the country’s Kapitan Andreevo checkpoint near the border with Turkey have seized 100.44 kg of heroin and arrested three suspects, authorities said here on Monday.
The drug, split into 200 packets, was found on Sunday night in the driver’s cab of a truck carrying auto parts to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the National Customs Agency and the country’s Prosecutor’s Office said in a joint statement.
Authorities estimated that the value of the heroin on the black market would exceed 5 million U.S. dollars.
The driver of the vehicle, a 33-year-old BiH citizen, was arrested at the scene.
Authorities also arrested two other BiH citizens who were his accomplices, the statement said, adding that they were moving almost in parallel with another truck, but no drugs were found in it.
The investigation is ongoing.
Japan to add 11 countries to entry ban list amid spread of COVID-19
According to the entry ban, non-Japanese citizens who have been in Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Ghana, Guinea, India, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, South Africa and Tajikistan within two weeks of their arrival in Japan will be turned away at the border.
The ban will take effect from Wednesday, said Abe, adding that it will remain in place “for the time being.”
The addition brings the total number of countries and regions covered by the entry ban to 111, including China, South Korea, the United States and all of Europe.
While Japanese citizens can re-enter the country, they must undergo coronavirus testing and self-quarantine for two weeks to see if they develop symptoms such as high fever and coughing.
Japan will maintain other border control measures until the end of next month, including visa suspensions and a two-week quarantine period for all arrivals, said Abe.
Alasoadura greets Aregbesola at 63
The Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Tayo Alasoadura, has felicitated the Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, on his 63rd birthday.
Alasoadura’s congratulatory message was contained in a statement issued by his Media Aide, Mr Dayo Joseph, on Monday in Akure.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Aregbesola clocked 63 on Monday.
“On behalf of myself and my family, I write to express warm felicitations to you on this occasion of your birthday.
“As you deservedly celebrate this eventful day, it is my prayer that Almighty God, who has richly prospered you and ordered your step these past years, will continue to bless you with good health and fulfillment in the many more years of worthy service ahead of you,” Alasoadura said.
Edited By: Modupe Adeloye and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq
Putin, Iraqi PM discuss oil market, Syria over phone
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday held a phone conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, to discuss stabilizing the global oil market and the situation in Syria, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Putin and al-Kadhimi gave a positive assessment to the agreements on oil output cuts reached with the participation of Russia and Iraq in the OPEC+ format, which are aimed at overcoming the acute phase of the oil crisis, the statement said.
They stressed the importance of continuing effective joint efforts in this direction, it said.
While discussing the situation in Syria, Putin and al-Kadhimi agreed to further coordinate steps to ensure a long-term normalization of the situation in the war-torn Middle East country and restoration of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The two leaders discussed issues concerning bilateral cooperation in trade, the economy and energy and expressed the wish to further develop the traditionally friendly ties between their countries, the statement said.
Putin congratulated al-Kadhimi on assuming his office earlier this month, and the Iraqi people on the occasion of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr celebrated during the past weekend.
Putin and al-Kadhimi agreed to continue the bilateral contacts at various levels, the statement said.
Passing out of corps members, issuance of CNS to hold May 28 – NYSC
The passing-out ceremony for the 2019 Batch “B”, Stream 1 corps members will hold nationwide on May 28, according to the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC).
Mrs Adenike Adeyemi, the Director, Press and Public Relations of NYSC, said this in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday.
Adeyemi said that the event would be devoid of ceremonial parade owing to the great danger posed by the global prevalence of the coronavirus.
Adeyemi said that as a precautionary measure, the distribution would be staggered for a period of 10 days in the first instance.
According to her, the distribution strategy will deal with concerned corps members anxiety, in addition to making the activity seamless and less cumbersome.
“The management heartily congratulates the corps members for their successful completion of the service, which undeniably is a major milestone.
“Dear corps members, as you go for your CNS, remember to ensure the strictest observance of discipline anchored on orderliness and adherence to instructions.
“Remember the rules of social and physical distancing, use of facemask, hand sanitiser, and proper washing of the hands with liquid soap for at least 20 seconds during the activity,’’ she said.
Adeyemi reminded corps members who are currently not in their states of service not to violate the ban on inter-state journeys which is still in force.
She said that as soon as the ban was lifted and it was safe to travel, they could go to their respective states of service to collect their certificates.
“Kindly note that unclaimed certificates shall be returned to the NYSC National Directorate Headquarters, Abuja two weeks after the lifting of inter-state travel ban.
“Please, always stay in touch with our social media platforms, as well as the mainstream media for further information,’’ Adenike said.
Edited By: Joe Idika/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Africa Day commemorated to build better Africa: PAP
Pan-African Parliament (PAP) situated in South Africa believed that Africa Day should be used to reflect on how to build a better Africa and a better world.
Africa Day is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organization of African Unity, now African Union (AU), on May 25, 1963.
The Acting PAP President Bouras Djamel told Xinhua that Africa Day is a reminder of the commitment made by AU members to address challenges facing the continent, to build inclusive and sustainable development.
“Commemoration of Africa Day is an opportunity for Africans to reflect on the journey, renew strength and motivation to realize the liberation and absolute freedom from foreign domination,” Djamel said.
PAP called for a deeper reflection on the common challenges that the continent faces in a global environment and to come up with solutions for the continent in the areas including development, health, digitalization, sustainability, jobs for young people.
Djamel stated that African made strides in empowering women, improving gender equality and boosting economies.
On this day, PAP takes this opportunity to commend all members for their courage and cooperation in the bid to save the lives of the African people from the rage of COVID-19, he said.
He called on members to reinforce political commitment and accountability to front-load investments to strengthen national health systems and provide long-term domestic resources needed to achieve health goals, grounded in principles of inclusivity, transparency and accountability.
Economist warns S. Africa’s economy may take years to recover
“The South African economy will likely remain in a recession for a prolonged time. The lost production in the past two months will be lost for many years,” chief economist with Efficient Group Dawie Roodt told Xinhua on Monday.
He was reacting to the president’s Sunday announcement that the majority of the economy would be opened on June 1 as lockdown measures were eased.
Roodt believed hardship would be on the rise.
“The economy was in a technical recession before, so this has worsened everything…hardship and poverty for a number of citizens would increase due to this,” he said.
The Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago last week said macroeconomic policies to deal with the lockdown problems should be implemented. Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will deliver a new budget that would respond to COVID -19 challenges in June.
Labor federation Cosatu said the budget to be tabled must be “decisive and bold” to deal with the “economic depression”. It said it must be aimed at kick-starting the economy and retaining jobs.