From corruption to reopening schools — four important points from President Cyril Ramaphosa's Q&A

19 June 2020 - 09:36 By Cebelihle Bhengu
President Cyril Ramaphosa virtually answered questions in the National Assembly on Thursday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa virtually answered questions in the National Assembly on Thursday.
Image: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa answered questions from members of the National Assembly via a virtual platform on Thursday.

Here are four important points from his responses:

Moving down lockdown levels

The president said the government did not decide on its own to extend or gradually ease the lockdown.

“We have given full consideration to the progression from level 5 to level 3. We have been able, in consultations with the players in each of the sectors, to agree that to have [ended the lockdown] done it earlier would have caused problems, and it is better to move on a gradual basis.

“These players are the ones who have come and said ‘we believe it is now time [to reopen]. I have had extensive meetings with them.” 

Lockdown 'gave us time'

Ramaphosa said the hard lockdown gave government time to ready healthcare services for the influx of Covid-19 patients. He said more effort is needed in the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape.

“We have not been as ready as we should have. The Western Cape is a case in point, and we’re now beginning to see that as well in the Eastern Cape. The Western Cape is a case in point because the rising level of infections there is in part because a number of processes that should have been in place were not in place.”

Corruption during the pandemic

Ramaphosa said mechanisms to curb corruption were put in place after the release of the R500bn economic and social relief fund.

“We have been disturbed by news that food parcels have been redirected in ways that were not intended. We are glad the media and political parties raised the alarm. We are concerned and want to ensure that money set aside for social and economic relief is properly used.”

Reopening schools

The president said the decision to reopen schools was not taken lightly. He said government had considered a number of safety protocols to ensure the safety of pupils, teachers and staff.

“As we observed the opening of schools around the world, the protocols they were putting in place and the advice we received, we realised we could do exactly the same thing but with even harder protocols.”