Please find attached soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP.
The Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has raised the alarm on a resurgence of new Covid-19 cases in South Africa. He has stated that the country has seen a 10% increase of cases over the last 14 days. While this is still far from the Department of Health’s definition of a resurgence which would amount to a 20% increase of active cases, it is critical that the country is assured of each province’s readiness to deal with a spike in cases.
This is why the Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling for an urgent tabling of all 9 provincial contingency plans to mount a credible response to this. The reality is that South Africa can ill-afford to impose job-killing restrictions again. We need to be assured that the provinces will be able to deal with an increase in active cases and hospital admissions.
We are also acutely aware that provinces such as the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Free State battled with managing active Covid-19 cases over the past several months. This was due to poor governance; rampant corruption and inadequate infrastructure. We cannot have a repeat of people fighting each other for oxygen tanks and losing their lives where it is completely avoidable like we saw in the Eastern Cape.
Minister Mkhize simply cannot adopt a ‘hands off’ approach in dealing with provinces which demonstrated a clear inability to handle a global health crisis. Critically, we need to see a comprehensive national department of health strategy that aims to raise awareness in communities about ways that people can continue to protect themselves. Behavioral change is the only way that we fight this pandemic and a proactive way government can intervene to bring new infections down.
The Western Cape Government has a comprehensive strategy that is data-led and deals with hotspots and bushfires. In addition to this, there is still hospital capacity to deal with any increase in hospital admissions. This strategy needs to be emulated across the 8 other provinces and Minister Mkhize should demand these plans from the provincial leadership teams and publish them.
We need to ensure that all provinces are ready for any eventuality. We cannot play politics with the lives of South Africans. We cannot pick winners and losers among the provinces, an exercise which isn’t based on accurate data. Minister Mkhize must lead the charge in this regard.