Category: 2020 Articles

STATEMENT BY THE SPEAKER OF KWAZULU-NATAL LEGISLATURE, MS NONTEMBEKO BOYCE ON THE STATE OF READINESS FOR THE FIRST EVER VIRTUAL WORKERS’ PARLIAMENT

9 MAY 2020

The outbreak of Coronavirus dictates that the efforts and work of all of us including the Executive is directed towards curbing the spread of the virus. We, at the Legislature understand that this mammoth task of containing the spread of the pandemic requires our collective efforts working with the Executive, to ensure that all the COVID-19 regulations and protocols that have been promulgated and all other executive decisions and actions taken are implemented fully, efficiently and effectively within available recourses. 

Even during this time of COVID-19, the Legislature remains compelled to consider the most appropriate mechanisms and modalities for ensuring that as a separate arm of the state, the Legislature exercises its constitutional responsibility of oversight, law-making and public involvement. 

Workers’ Parliament

Over the past three weeks, the leadership of the legislature has been seized with critical consultations with the federations regarding the annual Workers’ Parliament. We would like to announce that it is all systems go for the 2020 Workers’ Parliament. The Legislature, through sector parliaments, involves various sectors of society in matters of governance in the province. Workers’ Parliament is one of the sector parliaments initiated by the Legislature to give workers a platform to discuss and debate issues that affect them. We are excited about the fact that all our stakeholders are now fully on board and we are ready to officially host the 2020 Workers’ Parliament

This is an annual event, and traditionally over the years, has been a two-day programme that commences with the commissions discussing various topics and culminates in the Premier’s address. Due to the current situation wherein, the country is in a state of disaster and all sections of society are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, calls for radical alteration and adjustment to the normal way of functioning. The programme has been crafted to allow the sitting to be no longer than 3 hours.

Theme

With the month of May being the Workers’ Month, the KZN Legislature will host its annual Workers Parliament on the 12th of May 2020 on a Virtual Platform where workers from the three major federations in the province will participate in discussions, discussing matters that affect workers. Delegates from Cosatu, Fedusa and Nactu will deliberate on this year’s theme “Economic Shocks of COVID-19, Its Far-Reaching Impact on the Labour Market: Workers Feeling the Pinch”

The thinking behind this theme:

COVID-19 came as a health crisis which gradually developed into an economic and labour market crisis. We seek to hear from the presenters the list of economic shocks presented by the pandemic, what impact on the labour market. Planning team also spoke about challenges facing the UIF, and undoubtedly such challenges impact negatively on the workers, that’s why we are putting forward the statement “Workers feeling the pinch”, job losses retrenchments, and grave risk of absence of social security caused by devastating health and economic crisis, these combined make workers feel the pinch.    

Platform and how many people will participate

The proceedings will run virtually through a tool called Microsoft Teams which will allow all 20 presenters and delegates to be added as participants. 

Presenters and topics

Background and Purpose of the Workers’ Parliament, and the role of the Legislature in holding government accountable on promises made regarding COVID-19 -Hon. NN Boyce Speaker: KZN Legislature

A presentation on Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF): How it is done and how many companies have applied for COVID-19 relief benefits on behalf of their workers for this relief fund will be done by Ms Gugu Khomo from Department of Labour

Job losses and retrenchments because of the current economic climate: what is government’s plan for job creation, this presentation will be done by Sihle Mkhize from Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs

There after we will have the Premier’s Address on Responses to 2018 Resolutions, implementation thereof, and on government mechanisms to deal with the pandemic and address job losses

Participants and Observers

The sitting will have 20 participants which include 10 delegates from all 3 federations; Cosatu 5 delegates, Fedusa with 3 delegates, NACTU with 2 delegates. A number of observers have also been invited, these include the MPLs, MECs, Speakers and Deputy Speakers of the other 8 Legislatures, Workers in KZN apart from the federation delegation and the Media.

 

 

Communication Channels

As you are aware that public participation is critical in the business of the Legislature, we have created a number of platforms to ensure that the sitting reaches a wide audience even under such challenging times. Workers and the public at large will be able to access the proceedings through the following channels.

WhatsApp Number: 060 503 2194

Email Address: 2020WorkersParliament@kznleg.gov.za

Website: www.kznlegislature.gov.za

Twitter: @KznLegislature  #KZNWorkersParliament2020Live

Facebook: KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, KZN Legislature Speaker and KZN Legislature Deputy Speaker

Instagram: kzn.legislature

YouTube: KwaZulu-Natal Legislature

These can be used to view the proceedings and also get updates on the proceedings.

What is the Legislature doing for the workers during this difficult time?                 

The Legislature, as part of the Speaker’s social responsibility programme is engaging federations on interventions to be made for workers during this time where some have had to endure Salary cuts, Job losses and the lack of Personal Protective Equipment. More details will be shared in the coming weeks as the programme gets finalised.

The work of the Legislature during Lockdown

In these circumstances, it becomes even more critical for the Legislature to exercise oversight and hold relevant departments accountable for actions taken to stop the spread of the virus. To this end, the Legislature is informed formally by the Executive of actions to be taken at various stages, and its Committees oversee those actions.

The work of the Legislature continues even under these challenging times, management provided guidelines on the critical roles that staff must perform during the lockdown period to ensure that the Legislature is able to perform its oversight, law making and public involvement responsibilities.

Just to take you through briefly on what has been happening in the Legislature during Lockdown, the following meetings took place on the week of the 13 April 2020 to give direction to the business of the Legislature

a) Meeting with Leaders of political parties

This meeting was held on the 15th April 2020 for the Premier to present a report to the Speakership and Party Leaders in the Legislature on the Executive Council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and for the Speaker to share the Legislature’s plan to perform its oversight function, law-making and public involvement responsibility in the context of the lockdown. 

b) Programme Committee

The Programme Committee met on 16th April 2020 to consider and adopt the revised calendar. The adopted calendar is hereby attached as Annexure C and covers activities until June 2020.

The calendar reflecting the period between July to December will be developed in consultation with the Presiding Officers having due regard to the fluidity of the Covid-19 environment.

c) Chairpersons Committee

The Legislature drafted guidelines on how its Committees should perform their oversight function in the context of Covid-19 pandemic. These were adopted by the Chairperson’s Committee on the 16th April 2020.

These guidelines are aimed at assisting the Legislature to undertake oversight specifically on the Government Programmes to contain the spread of the virus.  They are aimed at ensuring that the Legislature is able to undertake its Constitutional Mandate with members playing an active role albeit in a safe environment that will not expose them to risks of contracting the virus.

d) Whips Forum

A Whips Forum meeting took place on the 17th April 2020. This session was to sensitize the Committee on the changes in respect of the Calendar and how the Legislature is responding to Covid-19 pandemic.  The Whips Forum will then consider the Sitting programme in the light of the calendar that was passed by Programming Committee.

e) Rules Committee

The Rules Committee met on the 17th April 2020 to consider a new chapter in the Rules to cater for virtual meetings of the Legislature Committees and House Sittings.   This was pre-empted by the Speaker sharing her proposed Ruling in terms of Rule 2 that caters for eventualities that the Rules do not provide for.

 

Having considered all the above, the Legislature adopted an approach underpinned by the following:

a) Deployment of Information Communication Technology (ICT) solutions,

b) Training of Members and Staff on the use of Microsoft Teams;

c) Review of the annual calendar of the institution to respond to Covid-19 pandemic;

d) Reactivation of all Committees to conduct their business through virtual means;

e) Options for Sittings that include Virtual Sittings, cluster approach for physical Budget Sittings or normal budget and other Sittings with increased distancing. The relevant option will be chosen depending on the circumstances that prevail at the time;

f) Development of Oversight guidelines on Covid-19 for all Committees;

g) Development of a Covid-19 Communication Strategy;

h) Review of the Standing Rules of the Legislature to accommodate virtual sittings and meetings;

i) Review of data allocation for members and staff for virtual meetings; and

j) Provision of safe environment for the Legislative work as and when Members, staff and stakeholders attend at the Legislature Buildings.

The above interventions have enabled the Legislature to conduct all political management committee meetings by virtual means, including the budget hearings, save for Portfolio Committee on Conservation and Environmental Affairs which will meet on Tuesday 28th April 2020.  The knowledge gathered thus far does indicate that the Legislature is able to conduct most of its activities through virtual means and this augurs well for the delivery of e-legislature, this being a strategic objective for the sixth political term.

On 23rd April 2020, the President unveiled a Risk Adjusted Strategy in respect of Covid-19 and informed of the level 4 stage which would commence on the 1st May 2020. 

It is therefore important to stress that during the initial lockdown period, and at level 4 of the risk-adjusted strategy which commenced on the 1st May 2020, Legislatures and Parliament are regarded as essential services.  Staff were informed that they remain available for business remotely and physically as and when called on.  A policy on Covid-19 was passed to ensure that Staff and Members subscribe to the testing of temperatures and sanitization requirement of the legislature.  Management was responsible for drawing workplans and ensuring staff that were working remotely were reporting and providing proof of service, where applicable.

The Legislature has considered business units that could continue to operate remotely with no negative impact on the work of the Legislature. Equally, the Legislature has also considered the option of allowing 1/3 of the legislature employees to physically return to work, however this option will only be utilized as a last recourse where working remotely is not possible or feasible.

 Lastly, there are business units whose core function have been negatively affected by the restriction and are thus unable to perform their normal functions either remotely or within the office environment.   The legislature has identified some business units whose functions cannot be executed at all under a restrictive period of risk adjusted strategy. Going forward, the legislature will review its business process to arrive at a permanent solution in this regard. This may include re-training and placement in other business units.  In addition, the HR division is investigating support platforms to assist Members and Staff in adapting and coping with the new work environment, time management and soft skills that contribute to productivity.

Upcoming sittings

We will continue sharing the weekly schedule of the legislature with you.

 

Thank you.

 

ISSUED BY THE KWAZULU-NATAL LEGISLATURE OFFICE OF THE SPEAKER

Enquiries

Nomusa Phungula – 071 851 0085/ 072 294 7237

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STATEMENT ON THE HUMAN SETTLEMENTS COVID-19 PC MEETING

07 May 2020

Embargo: For Immediate Release

Attention: News/Assignment Editors, Political Reporters, Reporters

From: KZN Legislature Communications Unit

RE: KZN PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HUMAN SETTLEMENTS COMMENDS DEPARTMENT FOR ITS COVID-19 INTERVENTION

KwaZulu-Natal Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements this morning held its scheduled meeting with the department and the MEC for Human Settlements to receive and consider the department’s COVID-19 report.

The department was led by MEC Neliswa Peggy Nkonyeni and the Head of Department Mr Mduduzi Zungu. Other stakeholders such as the South African National Civics Organisation and the “shack-dwellers” movement – Abahlali base Mjondolo were also in attendance.

Nkonyeni and Zungu reported on the department’s COVID-19 interventions which included the following:

· Mass sanitization/disinfection of informal settlements, transit camps and hostels

· Public Hygiene interventions including supplying sanitizers to households and bar soaps etc

· Public health awareness campaigns

· Installation of static water tanks to communities such informal settlements

· Extended informal settlement upgrading programme and anti-land invasion campaigns

The department’s report was well received by members of the portfolio committee with most of them commending the department for its swift interventions.

Portfolio Committee Chairperson Honourable Linda Hlongwa-Madlala thanked the department and the MEC for prioritising the marginalised sectors of our society such as informal settlements and hostels.

Hlongwa-Madlala also emphasised that the department needed to develop a post COVID-19 plan.

“The department also needs to plan beyond COVID-19 and present us with its plan on the reprioritised budget, at the face of the COVID-19.,” said Hlongwa-Madlala.

Nkonyeni also added that the department has also received a request to include Old Age Homes in its sanitization programme.

Ends

Issued by Human Settlements Portfolio Committee Chairperson Hon Linda Hlongwa-Madlala. Contact her on 0782923687

Or

Wonder Hlongwa 0829083532

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WORKERS’ DAY MESSAGE FROM SPEAKER NONTEMBEKO BOYCE

WORKERS’ DAY MESSAGE FROM SPEAKER NONTEMBEKO BOYCE: “LET US ALL HONOUR ESSENTIAL SERVICES EMPLOYEES WHO ARE DILIGENTLY TRYING TO STOP THE SPREAD OF COVID-19”

KwaZulu-Natal Legislature Speaker, Ms Nontembeko Boyce has joined leaders around the world in honoring the role played by essential workers in the fight against the deadly Coronavirus as the world celebrates the Workers’ Day.

In her message on the Workers’ Day, the Speaker said essential workers such as healthcare workers, farm workers, truck drivers, law enforcement agencies and grocery shops workers risked their lives as they tried to prevent the spread of the pandemic and keep South Africans going during the lockdown.

“Today workers around the world commemorate international workers despite challenges imposed by the pandemic. Workers are facing a lot of challenges including uncertainty of their future because of the impact of COVID-19 and Lockdown on the economy however we are confident that government will reignite the economy after this difficult time address the economic recovery of South Africa post Covid-19. We must appreciate the role played by essential workers as the world tries to defeat the deadly virus. Some workers have lost their lives while others have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. We therefore commend all those who continue to lend a helping hand to workers through donating various protective equipment. Government’s social and economic support package to mitigate the impact of the pandemic is also highly commendable,” Said Boyce.

The KwaZulu-Natal Legislature is working tirelessly close with labour federations to ensure that the interest of workers are championed. Discussion around Workers parliament that was meant to sit on the 7-8 May within Umgungundlovu District are still underway taking into consideration the restrictions and regulations of the lockdown, there are number of proposals including having a virtual parliament.

“We have finalized our comprehensive workers’ month programme which will see our institution working closely with labour federations to respond decisively to challenges faced by the workers. The programme will be finalized and communicated to the public early next week. With the country observing national lockdown due to the serious pandemic of Coronavirus/COVID19,now that we have moved from level 5 to level 4 , the legislature is fully aware that this year workers day will not be like any other before, there will be no traditional May Day rallies and will be celebrated differently,” added Boyce.

The KwaZulu Natal Legislature salutes the workers of KwaZulu Natal especially the frontline workers who are confronting the deadly virus on daily basis, this holiday is a testimony to the hard battles that workers have waged for workers’ rights and social justice over many decades however many challenges still confront workers.

ISSUED BY THE SPEAKER’S OFFICE
For enquiries:
Nomusa Phungula
0718510085 / 0722947237

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COGTA PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE RECEIVES A REPORT ON THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT’S INTERVENTION MEASURES TO CONTAIN THE SPREAD OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN THE PROVINCE

MEDIA STATEMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ATTENTION: REPORTERS, NEWS AND ASSIGNMENT EDITORS
DATE: 28 APRIL 2020
COGTA PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE RECEIVES A REPORT ON THE PROVINCIAL
GOVERNMENT’S INTERVENTION MEASURES TO CONTAIN THE SPREAD OF
THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN THE PROVINCE

The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA)
of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, today the 28 April 2020, held a virtual meeting with
the provincial COGTA Department wherein it received a comprehensive report on a
number of interventions being made by the department to curb the spread of
Coronavirus in the province through its Disaster Management Centre.

The meeting was informed of the current situation in KwaZulu-Natal regarding the
spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ethekwini Metro is the epicentre of COVID-19 in
the province and has recorded the highest number of confirmed cases currently
standing at 383, followed by uMgungundlovu at 46, and ILembe at 26.

In terms of the plans to combat the spread of the pandemic, a Provincial COVID-19
Response Plan is in place to guide the implementation of interventions by various
departments and municipalities and other stakeholders. The plan is informed by risks
assessments which identify hotspot areas and vulnerabilities at municipal level.

The department is also providing water in the form of static tanks and mobile water
tanks to communities to improve hygiene which is central in the containing the
spread of the pandemic.
There is a sanitization programme that is being rolled out in public amenities across
the province, which also targets informal settlements. The department is involved in
the distribution of food parcels to vulnerable communities through municipalities.

The committee was also informed that the national government has not made funding
available to the province to combat the spread of COVID-19. COGTA is finding it
extremely difficult to get support from the national department of COGTA. The
department has submitted disaster management plans, but has not yet received a
response. None of the KZN municipalities have been granted relief funding to deal
with the COVID-19 crisis. They are using their budgets to deal with the COVID-19
pandemic including the distribution of food parcels. The department requested the
committee’s intervention.

The department has reprioritized its current budget to accommodate its disaster
management interventions to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The
money to fund these interventions come from the line items of the departmental
budget.

COGTA MEC, Hon. Sipho Hlomuka has engaged his national counterpart, Minister Dr
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to resolve the issue of funding to the province. The MEC
has been informed that National Treasury has not released the funding to provinces
for fighting the spread of the pandemic. It was still busy with calculations.

The committee raised serious concerns about the distribution of food parcels to
vulnerable communities. It wants to see better coordination in the distribution of food
parcels to ensure that there is equitable and transparent distribution of food parcels to
communities. There is a perception that municipalities are distributing food parcels
along party lines.

“As chairperson of COGTA Portfolio Committee, I will engage the Premier and the
chairperson of COGTA in the National Parliament to ensure that funding for combating
the COVID-19 pandemic is released by national government and made available to
the province as a matter of urgency. We also encourage our MEC to continue with his
engagements with the national Minister to fast-track the release of funding to fight the
spread of the pandemic in KZN” said Hon. Ricardo Mthembu, chairperson of COGTA
Portfolio Committee.

Ends

Issued by
Hon. Ricardo Mthembu, MPL
Chairperson of COGTA Portfolio Committee, KZN Legislature
For more information please contact the Chairperson: Cell: 083 981 4320

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KZN LEGISLATURE SPEAKER, HONOURABLE NONTEMBEKO BOYCE EASTER MESSAGE

KZN LEGISLATURE SPEAKER, HONOURABLE NONTEMBEKO BOYCE EASTER MESSAGE

This weekend, my family and I join fellow Christians here at home in marking Good Friday and celebrating Easter. These Holy Days are a time to reflect on the momentous sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for each of us, and to celebrate the triumph of the Resurrection and His gift of grace. It is a time for renewed hope amidst continued challenges. As we embrace our loved ones and give thanks for our blessings. This year we celebrate Easter differently facing the deadly pandemic which has forced us to go on lockdown.

I would therefore like to appeal to all KwaZulu Natal Citizens to pray at home and obey the lockdown regulations all the time. I wish all worshippers a spiritually uplifting Easter and wish everyone in the country a peaceful, restful and joyful Easter weekend. Have a blessed Easter.

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RADICALLY ALTERING OUR BEHAVIOURAL PATTERNS INTEGRAL TO DEFEATING DEADLY CORONA VIRUS

RADICALLY ALTERING OUR BEHAVIOURAL PATTERNS INTEGRAL TO DEFEATING DEADLY CORONA VIRUS

By Nontembeko Boyce

History and lessons derived from elsewhere on the globe has given us ample proof that it is not only healthcare workers alone who halt the spread of pandemics such as the deadly COVID-19 but rather a resolute determination from every individual global citizen.

In all recorded pandemics that claimed the lives of millions of people and plunged entire economies into the doldrums, behavioural changes have always proven to be key in putting the brakes on the spread of infections.

We have in the recent past seen how the world and South Africa managed to considerably reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS infections after people heeded the call for a fundamental change of behaviour.

This came about through radical mindset shifts and we gradually saw people embracing prophylactics such as the constant use of condoms during sexual intercourse as well sticking religiously to their antiretroviral treatment.

More recently, the resolute determination of China’s 1.4 billion people saw that country beating the coronavirus which some believed would be impossible to beat because of the country’s population density. The Chinese people followed government regulations to the letter by among other things, wearing masks and staying at home during the lockdown and adhering to good hygiene.

If South Africans want to end the deadly COVID-19, they must take a leaf from how previous pandemics have been defeated.

Individuals need to play a more active role. This is important because we don’t want to see ourselves having an exponential growth in contaminations while there is massive body of historical knowledge and lessons that we can learn from.

We must use to our advantage the observation by Indira Gandhi that “History is the best teacher, who has the worst students” by demonstrably showing that we can use to our advantage lessons gleaned from elsewhere in the world.

South Africans will indeed be bad students of history if we don’t take responsibility and fight the pandemic head on.

The South African government has continued to play its role in an exemplary manner.

The way in which our government has coordinated efforts to contain the spread of the virus is highly commendable. It is an undeniable truth that the virus would have spread faster than it has had it not been because of government’s well-coordinated interventions.

The message that South Africans are getting from the government is clear, unambiguous, logical and seeks to unite people to fight against the common enemy. We have been continuously reminded to prevent infections through social distancing, washing of hands with soap and more importantly, have been asked us to stay indoors for a duration of 21 days.

The behaviour of some of our people however is disappointing to say the least. People continue to defy regulations by behaving as if it is business as usual. Some people violate the lockdown by visiting friends and having gatherings such as house drinking parties and weddings. We have also heard of people who do not co-operate when they are asked to test for COVID-19.

I want to warn our people that if they do not follow the regulations, the infection rate will grow exponentially and lead to healthcare workers being overwhelmed by workload. The number of healthcare workers who get infected will also grow and we will have no one to treat patients. So far, the efforts put by the healthcare workers in looking after those who have contracted the virus and preventing it from spreading, have been highly laudable.

Let us continue to support and protect them.

Let us be a nation that listens. There is really no need for the law enforcement agencies to police us. Let us learn from the Chinese who, when they were engulfed by the pandemic, listened to their government and changed the way they behaved. If we do that, there will be no need for the army and the police to follow us and they can end up aiding in other aspects of the fight against the pandemic.

Leaders from all structures such as the religious sector, traditional leadership and the civil society will continue to provide support to the provincial government as it continues to undertake vitally important role of protecting our people.

Ms Nontembeko Boyce is the Speaker of KwaZulu-Natal Legislature

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KZN LEGISLATURE SPEAKER NONTEMBEKO BOYCE’S FREEDOM DAY MESSAGE

On 15 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of disaster, announcing a series f of measures to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, at the core of which was locking and shutting down the country to effectively implement social distancing, flatten the curve, care for the sick and conduct mass testing.

Freedom Day 2020 may feel cold and panicked as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but there is hope. The numbers of those affected are growing daily. After this pandemic — perhaps next Freedom Day — hopefully we will think back to this moment and recall the history made. We are locked down in our various corners without the traditional celebrations across the country.
As a country today, we commemorate twenty-six years since South Africans took final steps to end the long walk to freedom in that historic election of 27 April 1994 but we commemorate through gritted teeth, with a wry smile and an acute sense of irony, this year.

Several other rights are now, in effect, also suspended or limited. Most obviously, the right to freedom of assembly: congregations present a real risk of increasing transmission of the disease, as President Ramaphosa pointed out in his most recent address to the nation.

Many, if not most, are lamenting the loss of freedom due to the Covid-19 lockdown however the risk is too high, limitation of freedom is in response to the threat posed by a deadly virus. Today we should reflect on our behaviour and change ourselves.
Covid-19 represents a deadly threat to life and to livelihoods, in this sense, it threatens freedom in the most fundamental fashion. And the government is obliged to protect its citizens, limiting civil liberties in defence of freedom.

No matter how you spend the day, this will be a Freedom Day you will never forget. Remember to Stay Safe during this period.

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REMARKS BY THE HONOURABLE KZN PREMIER MR SIHLE ZIKALALA, ON THE OCCASION OF UPDATING THE MEDIA ON THE STATUS QUO REGARDING COVID – 19, 26 APRIL 2020, IN KZN

WISHING OUR MUSLIM COMMUNITY A BLESSED RAMADAN

Let me begin by wishing the Muslim community a blessed Ramadan. It was alongside our Muslim compatriots, that we were able to bring down the walls of racial division and usher in a new society founded on unity, no-racialism, non-sexism, equality, justice and prosperity.

This year’s Ramadan has arrived amid the COVID-19 heath crisis. We are observing this sacred tradition in a new normal manner. Many are confined at home as travel is heavily restricted. Let us pray for the wisdom and strength to overcome the current health challenge. We therefore thank our Muslim community for their selfless contribution as we engage in this new offensive against the invisible and deadly COVID – 19.

PROVINCIAL COMMAND COUNCIL OUTCOMES

As the Command Council, we once again convened on Friday to take stock of our progress in the fight against the Novel Coronavirus.

This was our first meeting since we announced an intensified lockdown for eThekwini in our quest to stem the tide of new infections, particularly in this district.
KwaZulu-Natal has up to this point contributed nearly 21 % of new cases in the country.

As of the 25th April 2020, KwaZulu-Natal has had 846 confirmed cases, 29 deaths, and 241 recoveries. While there were no deaths reported we remain vigilant in our monitoring and management of the cases.

We are still noticing a trend whereby most of our new cases are being registered in eThekwini, which is recording above 10 cases per day. In fact, there is not a single day that eThekwini does not report new cases – unlike other districts, which can go on for days without having new cases. It is also concerning to us that we are noting an increase in the number of positive cases at Ilembe District.

Since the 22nd of April 2020, of the 44 new cases reported, 19 were from eThekwini, and 25 were reported at Ilembe.

LATEST PROVINCIAL STATISTICS ON THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS

In terms of where we stand with positive cases, the Province is looking as follows:
● Amajuba 8
● EThekwini now – 579
● King Cetshwayo 12
● Harry Gwala 1
● Ilembe now – 122
● Ugu 16
● UMgungundlovu 49
● UMkhanyakude 21
● UMzinyathi 3
● UThukela 23
● Zululand 2

Last Sunday, we had 383 cases for eThekwini; today we are at 579. Last Sunday, our deaths in eThekwini stood at 21…. Today, we are at 25. All the other four (4) districts have registered one death since the start of the pandemic.

So, as things stand, we remain more concerned with the Ethekwini situation and what is emerging in ILembe District.
The President on Thursday announced that we will now follow a Risk Adjusted Strategy, which will see the country downgrading to level 4 from the 1st of May 2020. This is welcome news as it will begin to free some areas of economic activity.

The President, however, further clarified and emphasized that even during level 4 the risk is still too high. Therefore the precautions that were put for the civil society to comply with still apply and must be adhered to.
If we were to use the National Risk Adjusted Strategy guideline, as things stand, it looks like eThekwini will still remain under stricter lockdown regulations compared to other districts – unless there is a drastic change in the coming days.

WHY MORE DEATHS IN ETHEKWINI?

As the Provincial Command Council we have also been occupied with attempts to establish reasons behind the province experiencing more deaths than other provinces while these provinces have a higher infection.
Our initial suspicion is that there may be a problem with the management of these cases, particularly in the private sector. We have therefore instituted an investigation through the Department of Health. This investigation must tell us whether the reason for this is due to medical reasons or negligence.

PROGRESS IN THE TESTING AND SCREENING:

The Department of Health has augmented teams responsible for screening within the Province. Some teams have been redeployed from districts that currently have low infection rates to those with high infection rates such as Ethekwini and Ilembe. The Department of Health has brought Mobile Testing Units to eThekwini to assist with fast-tracking the testing programme. The University of KwaZulu-Natal has offered to add their post-graduate students to boost capacity, all of which we highly appreciate.

To date we have screened over 1 million people and tested over 11 400. We now have a ward-based screening and testing time schedule.

CURBING THE INFECTION OF HEALTH WORKERS

The total number of laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases involving healthcare workers is 121, because this number has grown from 108 last week. This is concerning because as far as we are aware, all our qualifying healthcare workers should have access to the Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) that they need in order to avoid infection. It would appear that we probably need to further capacitate our healthcare workers in the correct use of PPE.

FIGHTING GROWING STIGMA AROUND COVID – 19

We have noted with concern protests by the people of Untunjambili at Ilembe District. These are people who were angry, because of the admission of 10 patients who are COVID – 19 positive at the hospital.

As the Provincial Command Council we are calling for an end to discrimination against persons who are infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19). Being infected with COVID-19 is not necessarily a death sentence, and there is no good reason to ostracise other members of society. COVID-19 is something that has descended upon us, and the victims, it is not their fault and as a caring society we must care for those in need of help to recover from this virus.

We are busy preparing for the accommodation of patients in all areas of the province. In some areas as it was the case in Untunjambili due to the low bed utilisation, the Department decided to use the facility for the quarantining, isolation and treatment of COVID-19 patients.

It is deeply concerning that the people whom the community wants to chase away are from the same district as them. So, where must they go?

Furthermore, the hospital’s 24-hour Gateway Clinic, which is on the same premises, is still rendering Primary Health Care (PHC) services to the public.

We are calling for an end to the social stigma attached to the disease, as well as those who are affected by it. We need to stop that, and accept that COVID-19 is here, and it is part of our lives.

We need to elevate our knowledge and understanding on what its symptoms are, as well as what those who display them need to do. We therefore appeal to our fellow compatriots to calm down, and desist from protesting because gathering in large groups is in itself illegal, as it constitutes a violation of lockdown regulations

ENFORCEMENT OF INTENSIFIED LOCKDOWN

We welcome the significant progress made by our law enforcement authorities in the apprehension of those who have sought to violate the regulations of the intensified lockdown.

Since the intensification of the lockdown, a total of 1182 arrests have been made by the police.

We want to commend the law enforcement operations for upscaling efforts to ensure compliance with lockdown regulations. There is a new trend by criminals of using funeral provision in the regulations to pursue criminal activities. To highlight just two recent incidents: Pongola visible police members stopped a vehicle pretending to be a funeral parlour. They asked for a permit and were shown a vehicle pass permit that they are a funeral parlour carrying a corpse. The vehicle was searched and what was believed to be a corpse turned out to be 30 bags of dagga parcels that weighed 80kg . The suspects were arrested.

Last night, in a separate incident in Underberg, Covid-19 police operations spotted a car also belonging to a funeral service, the car was stopped and searched and liqour was recovered in the car. The suspects were arrested. We are sending a strong message to all criminal networks that the law will catch up with you.

ECONOMIC RECOVERY PLAN AND SOCIAL RELIEF

As we are all aware, the COVID-19 global crisis is ravaging the world economy and already having a detrimental socio-economic effects on South Africa in the following ways:
● Increasing poverty levels – many people requiring food
● People losing their source of income
● No visitors coming to South Africa – Hotels have closed down
● Several sectors have closed or remain partially closed
● Tourism events have cancelled
● People’s source of income has been wiped away

There is a dire and urgent need for KwaZulu-Natal to re-calibrate the economic growth trajectory.

It has become crystal clear that the SA economic strategy going forward will require a new economic architecture and social compact among all roleplayers – business, labour, community and government – to restructure the economy and achieve inclusive growth. We will in the coming weeks unpack and take the public into confidence about the economic recovery programme for our province.

FREEDOM DAY CELEBRATIONS

Tomorrow is Freedom Day, as a national day that gave birth to a democratic South Africa. The Freedom Day is an occasion to engender social cohesion and national identity that is representative of South Africa’s rich and diverse culture.

As the province of KwaZulu-Natal we will use the day tomorrow to appreciate the work of essential services in various disciplines, including in healthcare, law enforcement, and emergency services. We will interact with some of them tomorrow. The aim of this is to recognise their noble contribution and sacrifice in the service of their country and her people.

I invite all the people of KwaZulu-Natal to dedicate a minute of their time to send a message, pray and thank the essential workers.

ENDS

Thank you

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SPEAKERS RAMADAN MESSAGE

On behalf of KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, I would like to wish the Muslim community a blessed Ramadan that will inspire you with courage and strength that will help you to win every challenge of life, even during this difficulty time, we shall welcome the month of Ramadan with the heart filled with peace, harmony and joy.

The next thirty days may the divine blessings of Allah protect and guide you. The holy month Ramadan gives an opportunity to my Muslim brothers and sisters to purify their mind, body, heart and soul by fasting and praying to Almighty Allah which I believe will yield positive results as we pray for the country and the world during this COVID-19 Pandemic.

Ramadan is not only for fasting but also for all Muslims to dedicate themselves in self-sacrifice, asking forgiveness for their wrongdoings and devoting themselves to Allah but most importantly reconnect with the creator. We are therefore confident that after fasting, you will emerge – individually – more focused and driven to accomplish the tasks of building a better life for future generations in the province through pure thoughts and spreading love during our fight against the pandemic.

Remember to Stay Safe during this period.

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AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT APPEAR BEFORE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC

KwaZulu-Natal Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development held its scheduled virtual meeting on Tuesday (21/04/2020) where it received and considered a number of reports from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development including the department’s response to COVID-19 pandemic.

The committee also adopted the department’s Annual Performance Plan and the 2020/2021 Budget.

Normally, portfolio committees meet at the legislature or sometimes at locations around the province to consider reports, hear evidence from witnesses or receive submissions from members of the public.

However due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic the legislature has resolved that all portfolio committee meetings are to be held through video conferencing.

Committee Members under the leadership of Chairperson Honourable Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha were generally satisfied with the reports received from the department of Agriculture and Rural Development which was led by MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi.

Committee members noted the department’s COVID-19 intervention including the following:

i) Mass production of sanitizers by the department which are distributed to departmental employees, small scale farmers and would also be used in sanitizing informal settlements and hostels.

ii) Provision of Personal Protective Equipment to departmental employees who are working during the COVID-19 National Lockdown.

iii) Departmental efforts to distribute part of the R1,2 billion announced by National Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Honourable Thoko Didiza to deserving small scale farmers.

Committee members were assured by the department that COVID-19 pandemic will not affect food security in the province and that more than 500 departmental officials would be working during lockdown assisting farmers to ensure continued food production.

The committee also resolved, amongst other issues, that in its next meeting it would call the department to explain how farmers benefitted from the drought relief fund in the past financial year.

The committee also expressed concern at the department’s failure to spend conditional grant.

“There is a worrying issue presented by CFO (Chief Financial Officer) that under conditional grant there is a R75 million underspending which happened last year. I think the committee deserves to know why there was this underspending especially on conditional grant. We request this (explanation), based on the resolution of the finance committee adopted by the legislature that all committees must monitor conditional grants and ensure that these monies are fully spent at the end of the (financial) year,” said Sibhidla-Saphetha

She also indicated that the committee intends calling the department to make a presentation on food security in the province in the context of COVID-19 epidemic.

Ends

Issued by the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development Hon NN Sibhidla-Saphetha
Cell No: 0833013622.

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