David Mabuza says SA has right leadership for Covid-19 challenge

05 June 2020 - 15:31
By Nonkululeko Njilo
Deputy President David Mabuza said the government had to take ‘tough’ decisions to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic. 
Image: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu Deputy President David Mabuza said the government had to take ‘tough’ decisions to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Deputy President David Mabuza says the government has had to take “tough” decisions to save lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mabuza visited Mangaung in the Free State on Friday to assess the state of readiness as the country entered lockdown level 3.

“The whole world is in a crisis of great proportions, where hundreds of thousands of lives have already been lost to the coronavirus. The world as we have known it has changed in a manner unimagined. Fear and uncertainty have become part of our daily lives,” he said.

The country had recorded 40,792 Covid-19 infections and 848 deaths by Thursday.

“People have lost their loved ones. Some did not get even an opportunity to bid their loved ones farewell. Unfortunately this was necessitated by conditions of history.”

Mabuza said the catastrophe had forced the government to take unpopular decisions as  it prepared for the worst.

“Government had to take tough decisions to flatten the curve of infections, and to save more lives as we prepare ourselves for possible tough times ahead. In the midst of all that, we remain hopeful that we will emerge out of these uncertain times,” he said.

The Free State has recorded 322 Covid-19 infections, 152 recoveries and nine deaths.  

In terms of the provincial breakdown, Mangaung accounted for most of the cases, at 183, followed by Xhariep at 61 on Thursday.

Mabuza commended the Free State for its efforts in combating the spread of the coronavirus. He said the province has screened 61% of its population, and has contact tracing levels of about 99%.

Premier Sisi Ntombela said the province had faced a number of challenges.

These ranged from food parcels, Covid-19 stigmatisation, school and library burglaries, a decline in municipal revenues, intergovernmental transfers and increased demand for infrastructure services such as water and shelter.

“Covid-19 stigma especially among the youth became a challenge but the province has developed an aggressive strategy to counter the stigmatisation,” she said.

Ntombela also cited food security as an ongoing problem in the province. “The initial distribution of food parcels to the poor communities had created chaos across the province but since stabilised,” she said.

Mabuza said the government had a plan to deal with all the challenges caused by the virus.

“We have a plan. We have the right leadership to steer us through these uncharted waters. When the pandemic reached our shores, our government made what is clearly a right call to initiate a lockdown and to establish a national response structure.”

He said the national coronavirus command council (NCCC) had decided to embark on a proactive approach of ensuring that all parts of the country have effective measures to be able to contain new infections.

“It has become clear to us that success factors to an effective containment strategy across all provinces have largely been as a result of implementing screening and testing at a large scale, having active surveillance measures, and driving behavioural change,” said Mabuza.

He slammed those who perpetuated stigmatisation and discrimination against those infected by the virus, saying it undermined the government’s efforts.

“It discourages those infected by Covid-19 to seek medical attention, thereby undermining our efforts of defeating this pandemic. We all have a responsibility to take charge and play an active role in combating the spread and transmission of this virus, as we have done in the past when faced with similar challenges such as HIV and TB epidemics,” he added.