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Lockdown food scarcity is high priority, says Ramaphosa

File photo. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency/ANA

File photo. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency/ANA

Published Apr 20, 2020

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DURBAN - While the war against Covid-19 rages on, food scarcity has become an equally important challenge demanding government's attention says President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa said government acknowledged the effects lockdown posed on the most vulnerable in society.

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"Many countries around the world have imposed Covid-19 lockdowns with a view to saving the lives of their citizens. We have done the same in our country, but our lockdown has revealed a very sad fault line in our society that reveals how grinding poverty, inequality and unemployment is tearing the fabric of our communities apart, " he said.

Several violent protests have since broken out across the country over access to food parcels distributed by authorities. Hundreds of angry people fought with the police, hurling rocks and setting up street barricades with burning tyres in Mitchells Plain over undelivered food parcels.

Ramaphosa also promised to deal harshly with those corrupt leaders who have not distributed food parcels to families in need. There have been reports of corruption and food looting in eight provinces.

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"There can be no greater injustice than a society where some live in comfort and plenty, while others struggle at the margins to survive with little or nothing at all. Alleviating hunger is not an act of charity. It is imperative for any society that is founded on respect for human rights," he said.

Despite the acknowledgement, Ramaphosa added that some of these problems are the residual effects of a fractured and unequal past.

"They are also a symptom of a fundamental failing in our post-apartheid society. The nationwide lockdown in response to the coronavirus has gravely exacerbated a long-standing problem.

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"Food support is a short-term emergency measure. It will need to be matched by sustainable solutions that help our most vulnerable citizens weather the difficult times that are still to come. Even when the nation-wide lockdown is lifted, its effects will continue to be felt for some time to come. We are at a point in our battle with the pandemic where complacency could prove disastrous. I call on each and everyone to remain vigilant, to continue to abide by the regulations, and to keep safe and keep others safe," he said.

Cabinet is expected to meet on Monday to finalise a set of measures to respond to the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown.

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