Covid-19: 'Nothing could have prepared us to deal with this virus' - Dlamini-Zuma tells NCOP

  • Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said nothing could have prepared South Africa for the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • During a parliamentary debate, Dlamini-Zuma said even advanced economies have been struggling with Covid-19.
  • The DA said even as the economy reopens, South Africans are still struggling to make a living.

Tasked with formulating regulations to flatten the Covid-19 curve, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has said nothing could have prepared the country for the pandemic.

Dlamini-Zuma joined a debate on government’s Covid-19 response in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday.

She said although coronavirus infections have increased, government has done all it possibly can.

"Even in the most advanced economies in the world, they have been found wanting in their response to the pandemic. In general, they have mounted a mix stimulus package in an attempt to mitigate the effects of the virus and jump-start their declining economies. Nothing could have prepared us to deal with this virus. Not since the Spanish Flu which was more than 100 years ago," she said.

Dlamini-Zuma said the pandemic was not only a health crisis, but was also causing economic havoc.

"We have not seen the depression of the economy like this since the Great Depression. The alarming pace of infections we have seen is a cause for concern. It took us 100 days to get one hundred thousand cases," Dlamini-Zuma said.

ALSO READ | Dodging questions: Dlamini-Zuma does not have available the reasons a state of disaster was declared

In his rebuttal, DA MP Dennis Ryder said the government has lost its credibility.

"The rule of law requires some respect from citizens. Police have been regulated to high school prefects targeting those who are smoking on school grounds. Illicit cigarettes was a problem long before the lockdown came. With the shut down of businesses, little commercial traffic and so the government margins of fuel have fallen. Airport taxes and port taxes have also fallen," Ryder said.

He said even as the economy reopens, South Africans still struggled to make a living.

"Everyone is hoping to recover from this," he said.

ANC MP Maurencia Gillion defended government and the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).

'All talk and no action'

"The NCCC has worked tirelessly to prevent infections and fight this pandemic. During Level 5 and 4 of the nationwide lockdown, a learner support programme was introduced to help learners while they are at home. It is a clear indication that we do not want to lose the school year," she said.

EFF MP S'lindile Ann Luthuli said the government should reconsider its position on alcohol during this time.

"The premier of the Eastern Cape is correct in his request for the ban on the sale [of] alcohol to be reintroduced. It has turned their hospitals into nightmares. This government is all talk and no action. The stimulus packages are announced without any thought and we still don't know who received this money," she said.

Freedom Front Plus MP Stephanus Du Toit said government's efforts to curb Covid-19 have failed.

"They failed South Africa with Covid-19 again. They soft-soaped us and made people think that the lockdown was meant to be a good thing," he said.

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