DA tables Covid-19 action plan for what it calls an incapable state

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen.
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen.
Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24
  • The DA has proposed its own action plan for an "incapable state's" battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The party is calling for more money to be set aside for the health response.
  • It also suggests the country follow the Western Cape's example when it comes to preparing for the pandemic's peak.

The DA says money is not an issue when it comes to the country's coronavirus response but instead blames the government for spending it on "vanity projects" and "failed state-owned enterprises".

The party's interim leader, John Steenhuisen, finance spokesperson Geordin Hill-Lewis and head of policy Gwen Ngwenya have proposed a "sensible" and "actionable" action for an incapable state.

Hill-Lewis said all South Africans should be outraged by developments at healthcare facilities across parts of the country, adding everyone was witnessing the collapse of healthcare in both Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

"What we are seeing in the Eastern Cape are Covid-19 patients having to fight one another, physically fight with one another, to get access to an oxygen bottle".

He added the government was only focusing a small fraction of bailout money received to fight the spread of the pandemic, which is approaching its peak in the country.

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"This year alone, we are going to borrow R700 billion, of this, the Department of Health will receive just R2.9 billion in new funding," Hill-Lewis said.

The documented action plan says money should be of no concern, calling for it to be redirected. This just after the government has committed itself to obtaining funding to help SAA meet its operational requirements

The DA has proposed the government should pursue what it called a more effective, lost-cost path in response to the pandemic.

This includes a focus on testing, following the Western Cape's example in preparation for the peak and setting up quarantine and isolation sites for those infected.

Ngwenya said the options would be a lot different if the country was run as a capable state in which case it could even afford the protracted lockdown.

The party has been critical of the lockdown, saying it should have ended a long time ago.

She added the government needed the ability to finance the health strategy, which was a lot lower than pursuing the economic lockdown.

"We've realised at this moment that probably the public sector capacity for testing is just slow and it's not going to catch up with the amount of the private sector".

Ngwenya said the two should be combined to produce a more unified and coherent strategy.

On quarantining, the DA suggested different facilities for the infected and uninfected, proposing, what had often been communicated by the government, for those who could to stay at home.

The party's proposal said the Western Cape, which is governed by the DA, had 41 public and privately owned facilities, providing 4 766 beds.

It added replicating the province's model would cost around R50 to R60 million nationally for the 2020/2021 financial year.

"The different between Western Cape and other provinces has been the ability of decision-makers to get things done at speed and with flexibility and this must be replicated and can be replicated because we do have the finance to do so," said Ngwenya.

Part of the party's strategy also included communication campaigns optimising non-pharmaceutical interventions, with public messaging tailored to different workspaces.

She added the country was currently being led through political and scientific considerations but needed a "purely scientific approach".

Steenhuisen said the proposal had been sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for his consideration.

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