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Cyril Ramaphosa and Zweli Mkhize applauded for 'greatest effort' against Covid-19 in Africa

09 April 2020 - 12:41 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Health minister Zweli Mkhize has been applauded for his forthright briefings on the coronavirus that are perceived as credible.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize has been applauded for his forthright briefings on the coronavirus that are perceived as credible.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali/Sowetan

President Cyril Ramaphosa and health minister Zweli Mkhize's leadership in the fight against Covid-19 has again received praise.

The pair have been applauded by The Council on Foreign Relations on the decision to institute a 21-day nationwide lockdown to halt the spread of the virus and providing daily, forthright briefings that are perceived as credible.

The council said the lockdown, which is now its 13th day and set to end on April 16, was one of the strictest enforced outside China, the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.

During the lockdown, Ramaphosa prohibited activities such as dog-walking, jogging, the sale of alcohol, and leaving home for anything other than essential goods and services.

The lockdown has been regulated by the defence force and police.

By Thursday morning, SA had 1,845 confirmed cases and 18 deaths. More than 63,000 coronavirus tests have so far been conducted across the country.

The council gave the thumbs up to Mkhize for acknowledging that testing must be expanded to combat the pandemic and the rollout plans by the National Health Laboratory Service to increase the number of daily tests by 36,000.

Last month, Ramaphosa, during his second address about steps being taken to contain the spread of the virus, said 10,000 health workers would be carrying out home visits across the nation.

“This effort appears to be by far the greatest in Africa,” said the council. “If South African opinion leaders continue to see Ramaphosa as exerting strong leadership during this crisis, it will likely strengthen his hand within the ANC and, once the crisis is over, facilitate the implementation of his reform programme.”

While highlighting the positives, the council also noted the three deaths that have been attributed to law enforcement brutality and SA’s record of protection of human rights amid the coronavirus crisis.

TimesLIVE reported that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) was investigating 38 cases against police officers since the lockdown began.

The watchdog also recorded six deaths as a result of police action, two each in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.

Ipid recorded 12 cases of discharge of an official firearm, one of rape by a police official, 14 of assault and three cases of corruption.