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Covid-19: President Ramaphosa’s coordinating council reinforces response to coronavirus

The council agreed that measures should be put in place to ensure that more cash is put in the hands of households to induce economic activity in the medium term.

President Cyril Ramaphosa chaired a virtual meeting on 18 April with the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC), which discussed measures to strengthen and intensify the country’s response to Covid-19.

The council consists of ministers, premiers, executive mayors and the leadership of the South African Local Government Association. The previous meeting assessed the effectiveness of the original 21-day lockdown period.

According to the statement released by the presidency, the council agreed on the need for a risk-adjusted approach to the resumption of economic activity at the completion of the lockdown period. “Such an approach would entail the gradual easing of regulations in various sectors, guided by available evidence which supports the ongoing containment of the virus until the economy is operating once more on full capacity.”

The statement added that the meeting discussed progress and challenges in the implementation of the nationwide lockdown with specific emphasis on the need for relief of social distress suffered by many South Africans who have suffered loss of income, experiencing food shortages or do not have access to water. “Since the lockdown, over 100 000 households across the country have been provided with food parcels, with further households being targeted through the Solidarity Fund and the Department of Social Development’s Disaster Relief Fund.”

The South African Social Security Agency has also set aside over R400 million for social relief of distress through food parcels and vouchers to be rolled out on a larger scale. The council agreed that these efforts needed to be significantly expanded as a matter of urgency.

The council also received an update from Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on health interventions being undertaken to manage the spread of the coronavirus, including mass screening and testing, contact tracing and treatment of infected people.

The meeting further made inputs for cabinet’s consideration when it meets on 20 April, relating to the need for an economic reconstruction plan which appreciates the huge damage that Covid-19 would have wrought on the South African economy.

President Ramaphosa has lauded the importance of the council. He said, “The PCC is an invaluable platform that allows us to asses the extent to which our response to this pandemic has fully embraced the principles of cooperative governance. Fundamental to all the work we do to combat the coronavirus is the interface between different spheres of government, each of which has particular responsibilities for effective implementation.”

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