SA must rally together to save lives and livelihoods

Residents stand in line to receive disinfectant, while health services disinfect Madala hostel. The writer says Covid-19 is an existential crisis that has revealed pre-existing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in societies around the world.
Residents stand in line to receive disinfectant, while health services disinfect Madala hostel. The writer says Covid-19 is an existential crisis that has revealed pre-existing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in societies around the world.
Image: Alon Skuy

Fighting the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) requires an army of dedicated South Africans, both in the medical fraternity and from all strata of society.

All healthcare workers, virologists, immunologists, epidemiologists, members of the SAPS and SANDF, and millions of units of personal protective equipment (masks, sanitisers, gloves and others), are part of this army.

The trenches of battle are spread across homes, shops, public transport, classrooms, places of worship, healthcare facilities, mines and innumerable other settings where Covid-19 piggybacks on human movement and interaction.

However, the weapons and tactics deployed emanate from strategies by government, civil society and business, based on consistent and intensive consultation.

Covid-19 is an existential crisis that has revealed pre-existing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in societies around the world.

In our case, the collaborative intervention emphasises our resolve to the district development model (DDM) approach.

A year ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched this, inspired by Khawuleza (Hurry up) - a call to action. DDM is an approach to accelerate, align and integrate service delivery under a single development plan per district or metro. Each district's single development plan is developed jointly by national, provincial and local government as well as business, labour and community.

The model was inaugurated in Lusikisiki in the OR Tambo district of the Eastern Cape, as a benchmark for rural development. In eThekwini in KwaZulu-Natal, it was used as an exploration for how it could work in a metropolitan setting while in the Waterberg district in Limpopo, it focused on the development of mining as the key economic driver in the region.

Key to this model is the ability of government to address service-delivery interventions in a coherent, integrated and supportive manner.

Each district plan ensures that national priorities such as economic growth and employment, improvements to living conditions, the fight against crime and corruption, and better education outcomes, are tackled collaboratively.

Amid this integrated approach to service delivery, Covid-19 presented unprecedented challenges. Currently, the three spheres of government are challenged to respond swiftly and coherently to health-related conditions in infection hotspots.

Government needs to intervene so as to save lives, protect livelihoods and stave off the paralysing psychological impacts of fear, fake news and general insecurity.

As an additional contribution, the national coronavirus command council has resolved that a number of ministers and deputy ministers will be deployed to bolster pandemic management teams.

Contrary to what a weekend paper alleged this week, the nationally appointed teams are in no way taking over the role of the provincial or municipal leadership.

These teams will enable government to have a better sense of what needs to be done.

This is meant to ensure SA quickly stabilises hotspots.

National government has a responsibility to support all the provinces in the fight to stem the infections of Covid-19.

It can never be seen as usurping powers of any province or municipality. The powers of these spheres of government are enshrined in our constitution.

This is the time for all people in South Africa, including the whole of government, to rally together to save lives and livelihoods.

*Williams is director-general at GCIS

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