President's Coordinating Council reinforces intensified response to coronavirus
Pretoria - The President's Coordinating Council (PCC) has agreed on the need for a risk-adjusted approach to the resumption of economic activity at the completion of the lockdown period, the presidency said on Saturday.
Earlier on Saturday, President Cyril Ramaphosa chaired a virtual meeting of the PCC, which discussed measures to strengthen and intensify the country’s response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the presidency said in a statement.
The PCC consists of cabinet ministers, provincial premiers, executive mayors of metropolitan municipalities, and the leadership of the South African Local Government Association (Salga). The previous meeting of the structure, which was held on April 4, assessed the effectiveness of the original 21-day lockdown period, the presidency statement said.
"The PCC today [Saturday] agreed on the need for a risk-adjusted approach to the resumption of economic activity at the completion of the lockdown period. Such 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 meeting discussed progress and problems in the implementation of the nationwide lockdown, with specific emphasis on the need for relief of social distress suffered by many South Africans who had suffered a loss of income, who were experience food shortages, or who did not have access to water.
Since the lockdown, over 100,000 households across the country had been provided with food parcels, with further households being targeted through the Covid-19 Solidarity Fund and the department of social development’s Disaster Relief Fund.
The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) had 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 PCC agreed that these efforts needed to be significantly expanded as a matter of urgency. The PCC further emphasised the need for social distress efforts to be dispensed in a manner that upheld the dignity of all beneficiaries, the presidency said.
The PCC had also agreed to ramp up water provision across the country and to deliver relief to more households so that it reached those most in need. This included measures covering the homeless and other vulnerable groups.
The council further 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.
As part of government’s public health containment measures, the council had considered available capacity in the country for quarantine sites and hospitals.
The meeting further made inputs for cabinet’s consideration when it meets on Monday, relating to the need for an economic reconstruction plan which appreciated the huge damage that Covid-19 would have wrought on the South African economy.
"Government must also develop an economic recovery plan for municipalities which are expected to bear the brunt of the economic, political, and social fallouts from Covid-19, as engines of our national economy and the coalface of delivery," the presidency said.
"The meeting was unanimous that the impact on the South African economy would depend on the pace and magnitude of the interventions which would be required of all social partners.
"This includes the need to fast track the implementation of identified structural reforms. The meeting 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," the presidency said.
Ramaphosa had lauded the importance of the PCC, saying, “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.”
African News Agency/ANA
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