Jackson Mthembu Steenhusien

Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu / Photo: GCIS

COVID-19 ‘complacency’ concerns NCCC ahead of Ramaphosa address

Mthembu briefed the media on outcomes of NCCC meetings this week, and warned that the public must remain vigilant to stem COVID-19’s spread.

Jackson Mthembu Steenhusien

Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu / Photo: GCIS

During a briefing on the outcomes of Cabinet meetings that took place this week, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) will again convene this week to discuss South Africa’s risk adjusted approach to stemming the spread of COVID-19.

President Cyril Ramaphosa will then brief the nation on the outcomes of the meetings later in the week. 

Mthembu said on Thursday that during meetings held earlier in the week, the NCCC had discussed a variety of issues currently facing the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, including South Africa’s ailing economy, crime sprees, and a host of upcoming commitments. He indicated that concerns have been raised about the public’s complacency towards ensuring that protocols are followed to limit the deadly virus’ spread. 

NCCC welcome Mboweni’s budget statement  

Mthembu outlined the resolutions achieved during the meetings, and said that the NCCC had focused on debriefing after Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivered his 2020 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement last week. 

“Tito Mboweni on Wednesday, 28 October 2020, sets out a course that limits the operational spending of government. It also supports economic growth to boost the creation of much-needed jobs,” he said. 

“The allocations support our drive to revive the economy from the devastation of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic and attract investments.”

He said that Cabinet welcomed the implementation of Operation Vulindlela, “which will support the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan by accelerating priority structural reforms”.

“Cabinet is resolute in its commitment to get the economy growing again and therefore our current tough actions will accelerate our efforts to build a more resilient economy.”

‘Reckless’ behaviour threatens efforts to stem COVID-19 

Mthembu said that Cabinet is concerned that some people are “behaving recklessly and irresponsibly” with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, and treating it as if it “no longer exists”. 

“Cabinet calls on all people in South Africa to continue adhering to the health protocols of practising social distancing, wearing masks in public and washing our hands with water and soap or an alcohol-based sanitiser, and avoiding large gatherings,” he said. 

“Such consistent considerate behaviour remains the greatest defence in protecting ourselves and others against the virus. Our responsible actions will ensure we minimise the rates of infections whilst we continue to rebuild our economy.”

He encouraged the public to download the free COVID-19 Alert SA mobile app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, saying that the app – which has been zero-rated by mobile networks and can be downloaded without any data costs – will improve contact tracing by alerting users if they have been in close contact with people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days. 

“The app does not gather any personal information or track a user’s location,” he added. 

As for the fate of the country’s lockdown tenure, Mthembu said that considerations are being made to evaluate to what degree restrictions are necessary based on the number of daily cases being reported.

NCCC excited by taxi industry progress  

Mthembu said that the declaration adopted at last week’s National Taxi Lekgotla is “pivotal in building a more efficient and safe public transport sector”, and said that the progress being made will accelerate the formalisation of the taxi industry and that this will place it on a sustainable growth path.

“Cabinet welcomes the commitment to sectorial determination for the taxi industry, which ensures compliance with the country’s labour laws and strengthens the industry’s regulatory model,” said Mthembu. 

He also made mention of initiatives being rolled out by government during Disability Rights Awareness Month, saying that various sectors of society are being consulted “to ensure the full empowerment of people with disabilities”. 

“This period provides an opportunity to raise an awareness on the rights of people with disabilities,” he said. “This awareness advocacy month focuses on calling on both the public and private sectors to upscale the recruitment, retention and accommodation of persons with disabilities in the workplace.”