South Africa: MEC Ravi Pillay Warns Against Fake News On COVID-19

press release

Debunk fake news and spread correct information on COVID-19, MEC Pillay urges KwaZulu-Natal Finance MEC, Ravi Pillay, has urged leaders of municipalities and various structures in the uMgungundlovu District Municipality to be "information champions" in efforts to contain the rapid spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

MEC Pillay said constantly debunking fake news is going to be crucial as the country works hard to contain the spread of COVID-19 cases.

He added that ensuring that the correct information cascades to all the war rooms, wards and villages would be crucial in ensuring that the country flattens the curve which would, in turn, ensure that the healthcare system is not overwhelmed by massive infections over a short period of time.

MEC Pillay, who is the MEC Champion for uMgungundlovu District, said this while speaking at a special briefing currently being held at the Hilton Community Hall.

He said holding the meeting in Hilton was symbolic as this was where the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported on 5 March 2020 .

"We could have held the meeting in Pietermaritzburg but we brought it here because we also we believe this will help us remove any possibility of stigma and deal with this in objectively."

The meeting is attended by 50 people including mayors, Speakers, municipal managers from the district municipality and local municipalities in the district. Other stakeholders attending the meeting include amakhosi, religious leaders and representatives from the South African Police Service.

MEC Pillay reminded those in attendance of the package of responses by government which include measures to prevent rapid transmissions and interventions of cushioning the blow on the economy, workers and businesses.

He said government will also be strict on those that want to exploit government procurement related to COVID-19 containment efforts.

"There is going to be a need for emergency procurement but that procurement cannot take place in a willy nilly way," he warned.

The MEC added that there are transversal contracts that government has entered into procuring outside these is only allowed where the price is not higher than that of the transversal contract and where quality is not compromised.

UMgungundlovu mayor Thobekile Maphumulo echoed the sentiments calling on everyone to work together in efforts to disseminate information especially to the rural areas and to squatter camps.

"I am convinced that if we work together we will conquer this epidemic. And if we go out to our communities and disseminate information I am sure that we will conquer," Mayor Maphumulo said.

MEC Pillay handed over thousands of posters and pamphlets to all municipalities within the uMgungundlovu district. These posters and pamphlets contain information on the virus and how it spreads and will be distributed across all wards.

Inkosi NW Zondi, a representative of the local House of traditional leaders, said amakhosi would work with government to ensure that the key messages on COVID-19 reach the rural communities.

"Whenever there is a crisis every traditional leader must play his/her part in dealing with it. As we are currently faced with this crisis I want to say that as traditional leaders in this district we will play our part."

Inkosi Zondi applauded President Ramaphosa and the provincial government for the quick response in dealing with COVID-19 in the country. Inkosi Zondi also urged the provincial government to ensure that there is enough water and sanitisers in traditional courts and in pension payout points in rural areas.

MEC Pillay said the province will be watching carefully the issue of water supply.

Other stakeholders also expressed their willingness to assist government in efforts in disseminating information and other supplies should the need arise.

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