President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the nation next week

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu says that the national coronavirus command council (NCCC) will convene next week to discuss how it can further manage the spread of Covid-19

This announcement follows the meeting by the cabinet on Wednesday, in which the group expressed their concern regarding the behaviour of South Africans who are acting “recklessly and irresponsibly, as if Covid-19 no longer exists”. 

Mthembu addressed the public on Thursday on the outcomes of the cabinet meeting. He said that after the NCCC meeting, President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation about this matter next week. He said that by then Ramaphosa would have received advice from specialists and experts, detailing a way forward. 

“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,” Mthembu said. 

He added that these are the measures that will minimise the spread of the virus. 

Yesterday, the department of health said in its daily Covid-19 briefing statement that another 46 people had died, which brought the national coronavirus death toll to 19 585.

The department also said that there have been 1 712 new infections, which increased the number of known cases to more than 730,000.

However, the recovery rate is stable at 90%, with 680 000 people having recuperated so far.

Last month KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala also warned that a largely care-free attitude presented by the public of his province since the move to lockdown level one is of concern. He said a return to a hard lockdown could be on the cards unless there is a decline in the number Covid-19 cases.

Affordable public transport 

In his address to the public on Thursday morning, Mthembu also said that the declaration adopted at last week’s National Taxi Lekgotla is pivotal in building a more efficient and safe public transport sector. 

Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula held a three-day lekgotla at which ways to regulate the taxi industry were discussed. 

“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,” Mthembu said.

He added that the nation should rally around the taxi industry, because  it is a mode of transport for millions of South African every day. 

Mthembu said the cabinet has not yet received resolutions made at the lekgotla, but he hopes that they will show how the government can subsidise the industry so that taxis can become more affordable, particularly because the government has been talking about this for years, but nothing has been done.

“Resolutions will go a long way for us to do something in the taxi industry so that they can be affordable to our people,” he said.

The railway system was also a concern, Mthembu said, because it will cost billions of rands to fix — which the government does not have.  

“We cannot use our railway system because it has been looted for scrap at the expense of this form of transportation for our people,” he said.

Mthembu called on the public to change their mindset about the railway system so that “we bring the trains back”.

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Tshegofatso Mathe
Tshegofatso Mathe
Tshegofatso Mathe is a financial trainee journalist at the Mail & Guardian.

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