President Cyril Ramaphosa. Video: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

WATCH: Political party leaders sing from the same hymn sheet to tackle Covid-19

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Mar 18, 2020

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Cape Town - Political leaders have put aside their differences to urge South Africans to work together and follow the government's guidelines as the coronavirus continues to spread.

President Cyril Ramaphosa met with party leaders on Wednesday morning to discuss the government's plans to tackle the fatal Covid-19.

That meeting took place as the health department announced the latest figures of confirmed cases of the novel virus stood at 116. These new cases also include cases of local transmission and of people who had travelled to European countries.

Ramaphosa said the meeting held at his guesthouse in Cape Town had been fruitful as all political parties were in agreement that it was time for action.

"One-hundred-and-sixteen people already have the virus and it is spreading. It is important that we close ranks and work together to defeat this virus. We all agree that this is an unprecedented moment.

"We have not seen anything as serious as this confronting the entire nation. We agreed that, regardless of our political persuasions and our political differences, all of us share a common desire to keep our people safe. But also to mitigate the impact of this virus on the lives of our people and the economy," the president said.

Ramaphosa had on Sunday announced several stringent measures that the cabinet had approved to help shield the country for a further spread of the virus. 

These solutions include banning travel of foreign nationals from countries which have been deemed high risk. The measures also include decreasing the number of public gatherings to 100 people. Schools have also been closed as of Wednesday and will re-open after the Easter holidays -  if the virus is under control.

At the briefing held after the meeting, all political parties echoed the president's tune.

The DA's interim-leader John Steenhuisen said people should adhere to the government's measures and also that panic buying had to stop as it was not a solution.

"We are comfortable that the health aspects are being tackled well by the Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize. I would like to appeal to the SA private sector and big business to come on board. It is not a time for people to sitting on their hands. To citizens, it is not the time for panic buying and for fake news," Steenhuisen said.

EFF leader Julius Malema shared similar remarks and called on the private sector to come on board and assist the government.  

"We want to thank the minister of health and you the president. As the EFF we support the initiatives of the government. We call on the people dealing with masks and gloves not to increase prices. We call on private hospitals that it is not the time to make a profit and if there is a need for beds they should help.

"We called upon the president to ensure that money is not stolen during this crisis. We call on church leaders to cooperate with the government and not allow more than 100 people into the venues. Unity of purpose is necessary," Malema said.

FF-Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said: "It is clear that the government is not in a state of denial. I think it is important to understand how vulnerable we are as South Africans with high rates of HIV and TB. People should follow the guidelines. We have also asked for daily communication for the people".

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe said: "When we have all the facts people can know what the truth is. We appeal to churches that we need to cooperate with the government and to contain this virus. We need to pray for South Africans and a solution".


* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak visit IOL's #Coronavirus trend page.

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999

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