Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha and his entire cabinet on Wednesday rushed to Moria outside Polokwane to meet with one of the factions of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) to convince their leadership to postpone its Easter pilgrimage because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
This comes after the bigger faction of denomination of the ZCC, which uses the star insigna and is lead by Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane, announced on Tuesday that it was postponing its Easter gathering.
The gathering is attended by between 3 million and 5 million people each year in Moria.
Before rushing to the meeting with the ZCC St Engenas, which uses the dove as its insignia, Mathabatha was asked why the provincial government had to first convince the ZCC leadership to postpone the gathering, given the presidential directive.
Mathabatha responded: “As we all know, this is a national health disaster. So, it requires all of us to comply (with the directive). Despite the fact that it is implicit within you that you must comply, we must still show that there’s a need for you to comply.
“We will be talking to them nicely with all the respect they deserve. But in any event, there’s law in the country. Then it is your option whether to comply with the law or not. If you don’t comply with the law, you know what the consequences are.”
On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a directive prohibiting gatherings of more than 100 people as one of the measures to contain the spread of the virus.
The ZCC St Engenas leadership is expected to make an announcement on Thursday.
Mathabatha also announced that all of the South African citizens flown back from Wuhan, China, and quarantined at The Ranch Resort outside Polokwane, had tested negative.
“Nevertheless, they still have to finish the mandatory quarantine period of 21 days,” he said.
So far, the province has recorded just a single positive case of Covid-19. On Wednesday, the national tally stood at 116.
Limpopo’s Cooperative Governance, Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs MEC Basikopo Makamu said a disaster management plan was in place to deal with, among others things, the water crisis in some parts of the province.
The plan was expected to be ratified after an urgent meeting of all heads of state departments on Wednesday.
Education MEC Poppy Boshielo said she had received several concerns from parents against the move by government to shut down schools because of fear of increased social ills among schoolchildren.
Some parents also raised concern that some children depended on school nutrition programmes, and that the extended holidays had not been not planned by families.
However, Boshielo said: “These are our children and we must take care of them. We don’t want our schools to be exposed to coronavirus. We can’t expect government to solely look after our children.”