Lockdown: Townships and rural communities not ready, warns civil society

By Ayanda Mdlui Time of article published Mar 26, 2020

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Some civil society, business and black empowerment lobby groupings have called on the government to prioritise South Africa’s township communities in the face of the nationwide lockdown as the country scrambles to contain Covid-19 outbreak.

TransformRSA’s Katlego Raphuthi said the organisation had written to President Cyril Ramaphosa urging him and his team to roll out a communication and awareness strategy in townships and rural areas until mid-April.

“Most of these communities are not ready and have not been given the necessary support by the government. Our people live in squalor and dire situations where one’s survival is dependent on their ability to provide a meal for just one day, where living hand to mouth is a daily reality,” she said.

She said the organisation had written to President Cyril Ramaphosa urging him and his team to roll out a communication and awareness strategy in townships and rural areas until mid-April.

“Awareness education and training needs to be rolled out as a matter of urgency in these areas as a vital aspect to manage the pandemic,” she said.

She added that the government needed to present a clear and practical strategy on how the outbreak would be managed in informal settlements.

“Government must also consult with the community landlords, property and make-shift accommodation/backroom owners (about freezing) rent payments for tenants

"Government must offer financial and material support which will go a long way in ensuring continuity and some sense of normalcy for the poor and informal businesses,” she explained.

She said failure to implement water-tight strategies to deal with the outbreak in the township and rural areas would result in the death of the poor and downtrodden masses.

“We propose that the president implement measures to ensure food security in collaboration with other government agencies to curb unfair price surges and excessive profiteering at the expense of the poor”

Healthcare Stakeholders' Forum spokesperson Lubabalo Mashiqana said it supported the government’s lockdown.

“We call on the private sector to assist the communities affected by the closure of schools. Nine million children rely on the National School Feeding Programme In many cases, this meal is the only substantial meal they receive for the day,” he said.

He said by partnering with township pharmacists, the private sector could assist in the distribution of not only information about Covid-19, but also masks, gloves and sanitisers.

Video by Timothy Bernard/African News Agency

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