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Read full remarks by South Africa’s Deputy President David Mabuza on COVID-19 in hardest-hit North West Province

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Read full remarks by Deputy President David Mabuza on the visit to North West Province to assess readiness and the provincial response to COVID-19, Bojanala District Municipality

Programme Director,
Honourable Premier Professor Job Mokgoro,
MEC for Health Mr Somadoda Sambatha and all MEC’s present here, 
Mayors and Councillors,
Esteemed Traditional Leaders
Leadership of the Maseve Mine
Our Primary Health Workers and Senior Government Officials
Ladies and Gentlemen

The National Coronavirus Command Council has mandated the President and Deputy President to visit provinces to assess their state of readiness in terms of the functionality of the provincial and district coronavirus response structures.

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We have therefore embarked on this saving-lives journey bearing in mind that the virus is both a medical and economic emergency that has disrupted almost all aspects of our lives.  

Whilst the coronavirus has been a crisis moment, disrupting everything, it has also been an opportunity to do things differently. 

In this regard, it was critically important that we had to lockdown the country and implement the measures we have, which was to better prepare ourselves to deal with this virus. 

This was necessary to delay the spread of the virus, trace the infected people, and prepare our health facilities to deal with the infections rising by the day. 

Our decision to lockdown was correct as it enabled us investigate and understand how the coronavirus is transmitted, and identify where the hotspots of infections are located such as this mining area of the Bojanala District Municipality, as it is the epicentre of infections in the province.

Nevertheless, we are confident that South Africans now know the ABCs of how to prevent the spreading of COVID-19. This forms part of the Coronavirus Prevention TooIbox, which is that the most common defences against the virus are that we must continue to wash hands, sanitise, wear a face mask at all times, maintain a safe social distance and reduce contact with others where possible.

We restate that we must accept that life should go on and that we will be living alongside the virus as we do not yet have the vaccine.

Earlier this morning, we paid a courtesy call on Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi of the Royal Bafokeng House to announce our presence in the platinum district but also to underscore the significant role that our Traditional Leaders continue to play in the fight against the coronavirus, as the leadership that is closest to our people.

We later visited the Bonwakgogo Primary School to do a close inspection of the facilities and the safety measures put in place for our learners and teachers to resume the academic programme under regulations occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.

As a former educator and Principal, I was particularly pleased that this no-fee school was up to the task and fully compliant with the regulations as well as safety and health measures to ensure the safety of our learners and their teachers.

We impressed upon the learners that more than at any other time in South Africa’s history, we look upon them to help us to save the academic year. We further called upon them, particularly in this Youth Month of June and beyond, to play their part by prioritising learning above all else, as we adapt to the ‘new normal’ under the COVID-19 epidemic.

Once again, we wish to express our gratitude to the educators of Bonwakgogo Primary School for their commitment, dedication and service to our nation and pledge continued government support in making their job easy.

We also had an opportunity to express our appreciation to the School Governing structures and most importantly, the parents and guardians for their resolve in getting our children back to the classroom. This indeed shows that we can live and have a productive existence despite the impact of Covid-19.

The visit to the school is testament that as government, together with various stakeholders and partners, South Africans are able to respond to the new normal without compromising the safety and well-being of learners, teachers and surrounding communities.

We reiterate that the coronavirus has compelled all of us, to change the way we do things, in order to stay safe as well as save lives and the livelihoods of all citizens.

This virus affects everyone without discrimination, young and old, black and white, male and female, educated and uneducated.

It is therefore important at all times that we assure our citizens that the Nationwide Lockdown required the closure of many institutions including places of learning and workplaces so that we flatten the curve, restrict movement of people, and enable government to put in place public health measures as we have now done across the country. 

The continued success of our response in returning learners back to school, workers back to their working stations and re-opening of the economy will largely be dependent on changing our behaviour. This includes observing good personal hygiene practices and following the now accepted practice of wearing your mask and social distancing. It is literally in our hands to defeat this coronavirus. 

The future of our families, communities and our country depends on the choices we make as learners, as workers and as individuals to live and work safely but productively along the virus. 

We are utmost confident that collectively, we will overcome this difficult period which has been brought about by the coronavirus and we will definitely emerge stronger as we stand our ground against this virus.

In all our engagements during this visit to the North West Province today, we have emphasised the importance of leadership across society in navigating all the pitfalls, and steering the nation out of the current crisis. 

We have no doubt that government has a plan and right leadership for South Africa in the current crisis.

We must together respond to all threats which compromise the health and safety of our communities such as the public health threat of Covid-19 and other epidemics, not least ensuring that all our communities can live in safe and secure conditions. 

We appreciate the community-led interventions and solidarity in this province which are making a difference in the communities, whether it was organising soup kitchens, collecting and distribution of food supplies to most-at-risk households, which counts among the many inspiring displays of our humanity and inter-connectedness with one another.

As we have entered Alert Level 3 and began to further gradually  open up the  economy, this means we must ready ourselves for more human interaction. This calls on each and every one of us to practice more caution and take responsibility to protect oneself, friends and family. 

In these times of a national and global crisis, a crisis that demands that we both save lives and livelihoods, the health of everyone is everyone’s business. 

The safety of everyone, is something we should prioritise as we gradually adapt to the “new normal”, informed by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Our current circumstances demand leadership at all levels to champion the interest of those most vulnerable in our society, specifically as we seek to overcome the triple challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty.

Finally, we would like to thank the mining community here in Bojanala for their active citizenry role in the fight against this pandemic. 

We salute this mining community and the leadership of the mine for their inclusive approach that not only catered for their employees, but took into consideration the immediate surrounding communities. 

We encourage your efforts to ensure that South Africans remain resolute in the collective fight against Covid-19 and the dual epidemics of HIV and TB, particularly the fight against TB in our mining communities.

We would be amiss not to call on everyone here and in all our communities to confront stigmatisation of those that are infected, as stigma perpetuates discrimination and discourages those infected to seek medical assistance, thereby undermining our efforts of defeating the pandemic.

Our actions as leaders, as individuals and as a people, will determine the fate of our nation. 

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Opinion contributor
Opinion contributor
This opinion was received by Today News Africa in Washington, District of Columbia. The views expressed here are those of the writer(s) and not ours. You can send your own article to todaynewsafrica@gmail.com

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