South Africa: Opinion | Open Letter to Min Dlamini-Zuma (Level 2 Lockdown)

press release

Dear Minister Dlamini-Zuma,

It is high time to safely re-open the battered South African economy, and allow people to safely get back to restoring their livelihoods. It is high time, given the vastly reduced Coronavirus cases and spread in Cape Town, to allow us to rebuild.

While we welcomed President Ramaphosa's announcement of the downgrade to Level 2 lockdown, we are still deeply concerned about the effects of the remaining regulations on the most vulnerable in our communities.

Not only are livelihoods still being decimated, but thousands of community facilities remain closed and unavailable.

For instance, Level 2 regulations allow for the reopening of public pools and beaches, but they remain silent on critical community services facilities such as community halls. From the outset of the national lockdown, the prolonged closure of these facilities made them susceptible to vandalism and theft. These sort of senseless acts of thuggery, has cost ratepayers millions of Rands in repairs and maintenance. And I will not need to highlight to you the catastrophic outcomes of illegal land occupations during this time too, and the millions of rands needed to prevent the loss of critical pre-purposed land, which falls squarely on your regulations.

Frankly, five months into your lockdown, and with the virus threat now massively reduced, our communities are still denied crucial facilities that previously supported their daily lives, as these state facilities remain closed and unavailable.

As the Mayoral Committee member in the City of Cape Town, responsible for social development and health amongst others, it is personally concerning for me that the newest set of regulations are silent on homeless people, who being severely hurt by your harsh lockdown.

National government has failed to provide local authorities with adequate resources to better help homeless people, meaning we continue to struggle to deal with the growing population and needs of the homeless community.

Minister, the most vulnerable amongst us need this lockdown to end.

Since the onset of the pandemic, both the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Government have prepared and implemented a comprehensive, risk-adjusted strategy which prioritised both lives and livelihoods. The City supported the Provincial Health department in constructing Africa's largest field hospital dedicated to providing quality healthcare for Covid-19 patients.

The City's Health department has introduced a raft of measures to ensure access and provision of primary healthcare services, while playing its part in managing the Covid-19 pandemic, through screening, testing and public education.

These have included:

Increased measures in clinics to mitigate the risk of COVID infection among staff

A project that will result in the establishment of 80 overflow facilities at clinics

Mobile testing booths for COVID-19

Additional Expanded Public Works personnel to assist the public education and awareness efforts of Environmental Health

The fast-tracking of more than 100 vacancies within the Health Department

Outside of the Western Cape growing reports of truly unfathomable Covid corruption and financial mismanagement relating to PPE and Covid-19 procurement are disgusting. By contrast, without wasting a cent, the relief and services delivered by the City of Cape Town have made meaningful change during this time, to the best of our ability. As a clean government, we've gone above and beyond to deliver the quality health and social care that our residents are entitled to.

We followed international best practice by implementing health and safety protocols at our public facilities and we have provided much needed social and humanitarian support to the most vulnerable in our communities. Most importantly, we ensured that public money meant to providing health, social and economic relief was spent for that specific purpose. We've not only accounted for every single cent but we've ensured that as a resilient City, we come out of this pandemic better and stronger.

Overall, Minister, Cape Town's Covid-19 response has been second to none. Our risk-adjusted strategy which prioritizes both lives and livelihoods has become a textbook case study in effective regional management of pandemic outbreaks. But as time goes on, your extended lockdown is undermining our efforts.

Minister, the City of Cape Town is ready to function optimally. The people of this City and Province want to get back to their lives, while remaining cautious of this terrible virus. Our residents have seen first-hand, that their local and provincial government have put measures in place which will ensure that they're safe upon their return to work.

Please allow all people to begin to rebuild.

A continued lockdown, even at Level 2, is harming our economy and the livelihoods of ordinary South Africans, especially the low-income earners. It is for this purpose, that I call on you, the President and the NCCC to end the lockdown here immediately so we can go back to working for our people and deliver the services that they need.

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