Lockdown benefits are now maxed out, says David Mabuza

25 June 2020 - 17:56
By Sthembile Cele
Deputy President David Mabuza responded to questions from MPs on Thursday.
Image: Masi Losi Deputy President David Mabuza responded to questions from MPs on Thursday.

The country has derived maximum benefit from the national lockdown and it is now up to citizens to take the correct steps to curb the spread of Covid-19.

This is what Deputy President David Mabuza told MPs in the National Assembly on Thursday during an oral question-and-answer session.

Mabuza also dismissed suggestions by DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone that co-operative governance & traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was a de facto prime minister, given the powers vested in her during the lockdown in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

In terms of the act, Dlamini-Zuma is responsible for the final drafting and approval of all national lockdown regulations. The DA has since challenged the legislation in the Constitutional Court, arguing it made her too powerful.

Mabuza said the lockdown regulations stemmed from collective decisions of the cabinet following discussions at its sub-structure, the national coronavirus command council.

He said the lockdown, although it remained in placed at advanced level 3 status, had served its purpose and it was now time for citizens to step up to the plate by doing more to protect themselves against the coronavirus.

“What is important about this virus, which we must communicate, is that the benefits of a lockdown ... we think we have benefited and it is over. Now we going to rely on the behaviour of individuals. Our people must wear masks, observe social distance, wash hands and, in that way, we will be preparing ourselves to co-exist with the virus."

The country on Wednesday recorded its biggest ever single-day increase in new cases since the first infection in early March. The health ministry announced that 5,688 confirmed cases had been recorded within the 24-hour reporting period between Tuesday and Wednesday.

This week also marked two grim milestones, with the announcement of more than 100,000 confirmed cases on Monday, and the confirmation of 2,000 deaths a day later.

Mazzone earlier jokingly said she was happy to see Mabuza alive and well, and taking part in a virtual sitting of parliament after a long absence.

“Nothing has gone wrong. Probably there was a period of lull when the lockdown was announced. I think, honourable Mazzone, that is the time when you missed me because we all locked down and for a month we could not see each other. I missed you too, but the conditions at that time dictated that we stay at home,” Mabuza told her.

“After easing to level 4 we ... started moving around. I’m sure that down the line we are going to see things improving.”