Statement on Covid-19

Hon SL Ngcobo, MP

Honourable Chairperson, Covid-19 has already exacted a great toll in respect of loss of life in South Africa, and to all those families who have lost loved ones, we extend our most sincere condolences. Recently we have witnessed the passing of Mr Gordon Kegakilwe, the North West MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs. This morning we received the news of the passing ANC KZN spokesperson, Mr Ricardo Mthembu, both due to Covid-19. On behalf of his Excellency, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, our President Emeritus and leader in Parliament, and the entire IFP Parliamentary Caucus, we extend our deepest condolences to Mr Kegakilwe and Mr Mthembu’s family, colleagues and friends.

Honourable Members, extreme poverty, inequality, and violence have always been an unacceptable part of the fabric of our society. The Covid-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for the explosion of these issues, which have been simmering beneath the surface for decades, and which now include the added issue of stigmatisation for those who test positive for Covid-19. Untruths – such as the transmission of Covid-19 from other species of wildlife – must also be dispelled.

The IFP however, remains concerned about the surge in the recorded positive cases – especially in Gauteng. On 7 July, the number of positive cases, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, stood at 205 721 and Gauteng, alone, had 66 891 positive cases. In the wake of this surge in numbers, the IFP has called for the reinstatement of Level 5 in Gauteng, and remains concerned about our healthcare facilities and schools becoming “hot spots” for the virus.

In April, the IFP appealed for the urgent investigation into the outbreak of Covid-19 in KZN’s private hospitals and asked the KZN MEC for Health to ensure that all healthcare workers were provided with adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). According to the SA Nursing Council’s 2017 age statistics, close to 50% of all registered nurses and midwives practising in South Africa are over the age of 50, making them particularly vulnerable to the virus. At this critical stage, we cannot over-emphasise the need for detailed prevention plans to be implemented by our Provincial and National Health Departments.

The IFP believes that the phased-in approach to the reopening of schools was ill-informed and contributed to the surge in the number of positive cases. On 26 June, the IFP called for an urgent debate on the issue in Parliament, which was approved by the Speaker of Parliament yesterday. We are questioning the rationality of the phased-in approach and the inflexible decision to continue with the matric examinations in November. We demand careful consideration of all alternatives to ensure the wellbeing of our children, teachers, and their families.

In conclusion, the IFP stands in solidarity with South Africans in the fight against Covid-19. This is not a fight that government can win alone – there is a collective responsibility, which our citizenry must also shoulder in defeating this pandemic.

I thank you.

Hon. S Ngcobo, MP
IFP Secretary General
082 902 4508