Renewed fears as more government officials die of Covid-19
Johannesburg - As Covid-19 infections and deaths climb in South Africa, North West MEC of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Gordon Kegakilwe, Langeberg mayor Henry Jansen and former KwaDukuza mayor and ANC spokesperson Ricardo Mthembu, have succumbed to the epidemic this week.
Three Premiers - North West’s Job Mokgoro, Western Cape’s Alan Winde and Gauteng’s David Makhura, have had to go into self-isolation after testing positive for Covid-19.
On Friday, the mayor of Lesedi Local Municipality in Gauteng Lerato Maloka alongside her councillor Mapule Motsepe also tested positive for Covid-19.
Also, six members of the province’s health war room tested positive to Covid-19, the Department of Health said in a statement on Thursday.
The rising number of infections and deaths among government officials, has sparked fears that this might have a negative impact against the battle to halt Covid-19 infections in the country.
Government Communication and Information System director-general Phumla Williams said they did not have consolidated figures of ministers, MECs and senior government officials infected or (who have) died from Covid-19.
“I am not aware of any executives who have contracted the virus except for the three premiers who openly announced having tested Covid-19 positive.
“At national level, we only announced the Deputy Minister iNkosi Phathekile Holomisa who tested positive. He has since fully recovered and back at work,” Williams said.
By Thursday this week, there were more than 3700 people who had succumbed to Covid-19-related complications while more than 238339 positive cases were identified, almost half had recovered.
Gauteng is now said to be the epicentre for coronavirus after it recorded 81546 cases, prompting Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to say at a media briefing in Pretoria that “it is not surprising that Gauteng is the province with the highest number of cases.”
While North West MEC Kegakilwe was laid to rest this week, Mokgoro’s spokesperson Vuyisile Ngesi dismissed claims that Mokgoro was admitted to hospital this week.
“Mokgoro is not sick, he went from self-isolation to voluntarily quarantine at the public medical facility.
“Remember that there is no special attention, the premier would not go to hospital by ‘blue lights’ as he has a duty to protect his staff.
“He had to call an ambulance to come and fetch him to go quarantine in the public facility.
“He was never admitted at hospital, whoever saw Premier Mokgoro inside the ambulance got excited and spread lies to the media.
“At the moment, two MECs tested positive for Covid-19 (MEC Gaoage Molapisi and the late Kegakilwe).
“The Premier Professor Job Mokgoro has also tested positive.
“We do not have any confirmation of a senior government official who has tested positive,” Ngesi said.
Winde, who was supposed to address a media briefing on Thursday failed to do so due to health complications.
“Please accept our apologies for the postponement of today’s digicon (digital conference).
Premier Alan Winde has taken the decision to rest at home, on the advice of his doctor, due to having a slight fever as a result of Covid-19.
“As he has type 2 diabetes, he is monitoring himself closely.
“His blood glucose levels were also higher than usual this morning, determining the decision to take due precautions and rest.
“A new date for the digicon will be communicated in due course,” an email from his office said.
It is not clear as to how Winde contracted Covid-19, “he first started to experience symptoms on Sunday”.
“He has been managing his full schedule and has worked from home throughout this week, but has taken today to rest,” Winde’s spokesperson Bianca Capazorio said.
Capazorio also added that other provincial governments have also changed their working culture, “the biggest impact will be financial”.
“The response to Covid-19 will cost us in excess of R5 billion,” Capazorio said. While there is no MEC in the Western Cape who has died or contracted the virus, eight members of senior management across departments have tested positive, and four of these recorded as
Twenty-one Limpopo government officials have contracted the virus.
“Only one MEC and about 20 officials have contracted Covid-19,” said Premier Stan Mathabatha’s spokesperson Kenny Mathivha.
Mathivha said Covid-19 has affected how the government functions, saying “It has impacted our working culture”.
Only a few officers come to offices while most are working from home.
“All meetings are virtual. “All those with comorbidities are also working from home,” Mathivha added.