South Africa has made progress in curbing new transmissions of Covid-19, but still has a long way to go, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.

“The weeks and months ahead will be difficult and will demand much more from our people,” Ramaphosa said in a weekly newsletter.

He said the coronavirus pandemic would continue to place an enormous strain on South Africa’s society and institutions and acknowledged that critics of his government’s extended lockdown aimed at containing its spread had exercised their constitutional rights to challenge the measures in court.

“As we navigate these turbulent waters, our Constitution is our most important guide and our most valued protection. Our robust democracy provides the strength and the resilience we need to overcome this deep crisis,” the president wrote.

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Jairus Mmutle GCIS

Even as South Africa gradually opened up the econom, the impact on people’s material conditions would be severe, with the potential for conflict, discord and dissatisfaction remaining, he said.

Ramaphosa defended all the decisions taken by his government as having been made in good fait, based on scientific, economic and empirical data and meant to advance, not harm the interests of South Africans.

“Our every decision is informed by the need to advance the rights to life and dignity as set out in our Constitution,” he said, pledging to welcome different, and dissenting viewpoints around the national coronavirus response. 

“The exercise of the fundamental freedoms of expression, association and speech is a barometer of the good health of our democracy,” he said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa. File Picture

“But much more than that, these rights are essential to the success of our national and collective struggle to overcome the coronavirus.”