I was taking care of myself and others: Mabuza tells MPs why he kept a low profile during Covid-19

17 March 2021 - 18:26
By kgothatso madisa AND Kgothatso Madisa
Deputy president David Mabuza
Image: GCIS Deputy president David Mabuza

Deputy President David Mabuza has explained his much-criticised absence from the public at the height of the coronavirus pandemic last year, telling MPs he had to do so for the sake of his own health.

Mabuza disclosed this while responding to oral questions from members of the National Assembly on Wednesday afternoon.

He told MPs that not only did he opt to spend a lot of time at his home to protect his own health, but he also did so as part of setting an example during the lockdown because the government was encouraging people to remain indoors.

Mabuza was seldom seen in public during the peak of Covid-19 last year, leading many on social media and other platforms to repeatedly ask about his whereabouts. At the time, President Cyril Ramaphosa and other cabinet ministers serving in the national coronavirus command council appeared regularly in the media to detail measures to curb the spread of the killer disease.

But Mabuza said that as someone with underlying health conditions, he had to be cautious.

“When we put down the law, it must be us who also have to abide by it,” Mabuza said on Wednesday. “More especially, us with other illnesses had to be even more careful and also abide by the law and not be seen gallivanting, and take care of ourselves.”

Mabuza said this could be why he was still alive.

“Perhaps this is why we’re able to be here with you today,” Mabuza said in explaining his absence.

This was after he was mocked by IFP MP Mthokozisi Nxumalo for not being visible enough during the coronavirus last year.

Mabuza was responding to questions on the impact on the national lockdown on the economy.

Covid-19 has so far claimed the lives of more than 51,560 people since the first case was identified in March last year.

The coronavirus is known to particularly affected those with comorbidities, including diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, chronic lung conditions and cardiovascular conditions. Age was also a significant factor for severe illness.

Mabuza often excused himself from his parliamentary duties last year, citing ill health, among other reasons. He has previously received medical treatment in Russia after he was allegedly poisoned during his time as Mpumalanga premier.

Mabuza defended the strict lockdown of last year, saying it was necessary to allow the health-care industry to prepare i for the coronavirus. He said the impact of Covid-19 could have been far more devastating on human life had there been no early lockdown, as has been the case in other countries.

He said other economic measures, such as government's economic reconstruction and recovery plan, would help restore the jobs lost during the coronavirus pandemic.