S/African parties criticise UK over air travel ban

Britain's banning of air travel to and from South Africa due to the newly-identified coronavirus variant smacked of “an unfair…

Britain’s banning of air travel to and from South Africa due to the newly-identified coronavirus variant smacked of “an unfair decision,” political parties said on Saturday here.Commenting on this development, the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party warned that the UK ban would create stigma that the variant emanated from an African nation.


The party called for responsible leadership on the part of the UK, instead of making unsubstantiated allegations against South Africa.


“It is of no use to make isolated travel bans to nations as if the behavioural patterns of the virus can be confined to one nation,” EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo said.


“Rather, we need responsible leadership that is able to accept the fact that there is no definitive evidence of one nation being at the centre of the growth of the virus. We warn the UK against this,” Pambo said.


On its part, the country’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, also called on the UK to refrain from creating the impression that South Africa was the cause of the coronavirus second wave in other countries.


The new variant had not contributed to any country’s second wave, DA spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said.


A third opposition party, Cope, warned London not to use South Africa as a scapegoat for its own Covid-19 problems.


“This is totally unacceptable — that South Africa must be used as a scapegoat. Finger pointing will not solve this problem,” Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said. 


He added: “This is a global problem. All of us must stand together to find a solution to this problem.”


Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock said London was concerned about the new variant being found in South Africa.


Hancock claimed that the South African variant was more transmissible than its own Covid-19 variant, and that the former variant had mutated further than the one discovered in the UK.


Health Minister Zweli Mkhize disputed this, dismissing Hancock’s utterances as baseless, and had no scientific evidence to show that the new variant here was more dangerous than new variant in the UK or elsewhere.