South Africa: Southern African Human Rights Defenders Network Discusses Response to COVID-19


At a webinar on Friday 10 July, members of the network agreed that socioeconomic issues like access to healthcare, vulnerability of employment, and the readiness to resume schooling were their greatest challenge.

Reverend Macdonald Sembereka, representing the Malawian Human Rights Commission, said the commission had played a key role in the Covid-19 response so as to ensure a human rights-based approach. He said the right to health was of primary concern as well as the right to employment.

It was also generally agreed that Covid-19 merely magnified pre-existing socioeconomic inequalities and as a result was being experienced differently across society.

Sembereka said that Malawi recently held presidential elections, which had been a challenge in terms of coordinating campaigning and balancing that with the prevention of Covid-19.

Another concern was the attitude of people in rural communities, as it seemed people felt Covid-19 was an urban disease and similar to normal flu.

The South African Human Rights Commission, represented by commissioner Mohamed Ameermia, said they were concerned about the continued evictions in the country. He made particular mention of the incident where the City of Cape Town violated the dignity of Bulelani Qolani, dragging him out of his shack while he...

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