Ramaphosa: 'I have meetings 18, 20 hours a day'

President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government's response to Covid-19 has destroyed silos in the state and allowed it to function more effectively.

The president was speaking during his visit to Nelson Mandela Bay on Thursday, where he assessed the Eastern Cape provincial government's response to the coronavirus.

"Quite often, in government, people build their own fiefdoms and have their own silos, but dealing with this disaster has enabled us to destroy these silos and enabled us to work effectively together,” Ramaphosa said.

READ | DA takes govt to court over lockdown regulations

He said the capacity of the state has always been a concern, but the government's response to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus has shown improvement in this regard.

Ramaphosa said the government was working harder and more effectively than ever. He said the crisis, as a result of the coronavirus, was forcing the government to act much faster than it used to. 

"I am involved in meetings almost like 20 hours a day, 18 hours a day. We are working much harder and more effectively," he said.

The president again conceded during his visit to the Eastern Cape that there had been missteps in the government's efforts, but said most of the time it was getting things right.

In an address to the nation on Wednesday evening, Ramaphosa committed to making amends and correcting mistakes made by the government during the seven-week lockdown.

He said the government's implementation had sometimes been slow, while the enforcement had sometimes been inconsistent and too harsh.

Unchartered waters 

Ramaphosa again emphasised that the government was "traversing unchartered waters".

"We dare not fail," the president cautioned. 

He highlighted some silver linings of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the fact that ministers and deputy ministers were working together in a much more integrated way.

"(Covid-19) has enabled us to look at the real serious challenges that our people are facing. The challenges of the real, crushing poverty that our people are subjected to. It has evoked a more purposeful determination to deal with those challenges," Ramaphosa said.

He further noted that the pandemic had enabled the government to do right by the people of South Africa.

"Covid-19 is saying we must provide water in schools before those schools open - because those schools should not open until there is water... and proper sanitation," he said. 

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