WRAP | Ramaphosa hints at lockdown Level 1, talks tough on corruption and GBV

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09 September 20:18

Ramaphosa has wrapped up the Q&A

09 September 20:16

Ramaphosa is asked whether there is a move to Level 1 lockdown on the cards for next week

He says the National Coronavirus Command Council is evaluating input from several stakeholders, for example religious leaders who want to allow more congregants, sportspeople, hoteliers and tourism and those in the arts. He says the proposals from stakeholders will be considered, as well as from scientists advising the government. 

"Watch this space next week," he says. 

09 September 19:42

Ramaphosa is asked again about the lack of suspensions without pay for government officials who have been suspended or have stepped aside. He is also asked about the GDP figures released this week which shows the country's economy had contracted. 

Ramaphosa says the economic contraction was "much deeper" than expected, but he had expected it to be "severe". He says the country entered the pandemic on a "weak wicket", as the economy was already poor. He says that the lockdown, though having an economic impact, had, however, saved lives. Ramaphosa says the lockdown was "immensely supported" from the start, and maintains it has succeeded, despite comments from detractors.

Ramaphosa says he wanted R1 trillion when the country had initially put together its R500 billion social relief fund. He adds that the government has "gone big" when it came to providing financial relief for businesses and people during the pandemic. 

Meanwhile, Ramaphosa says the Covid-19 vaccine, when eventually made, should not be made available at a price that is too steep. He says the government will "make it available to our people", and will negotiate the pricing of vaccines won't be "excessive". He says there will be a WHO event on Thursday that will deal specifically with this, and Ramaphosa, as chairperson of the African Union, will put the matter of cost on the table. He adds that the country will manufacture the vaccine in the country once it has been developed.

Ramaphosa says, against sceptics of his regime so far, that there has been a "sea change" of difference. He again says that "history will absolve me", and "we are not playing games" when it comes to cleaning up the country. He says state structures were "broken, piece by piece" for a number of years, and the remedy will take time. 

He says the country will "rise like a phoenix" against these problems. 

09 September 19:28

The president is asked about a timeline on the recovery plan and whether there could be a cabinet reshuffle in underperforming portfolios

Ramaphosa says the timeline is "soonest, maybe two-to-three weeks". He says the recovery will be funded by external funders because government "has no money". 

He says he doesn't know whether there will be changes to cabinet, and jovially asks the questioner whether he has recommendations. 

09 September 19:26

Ramaphosa is asked another GBV question, this time about why frontline workers in the GBV crisis are underresourced.

The president says a council that the government is putting in place will be tasked with dealing with this precise problem. He says this structure will be able to address challenges of this nature, and "we will make sure that the resourcing will happen."

09 September 19:17

Ramaphosa is asked about who came up with the R200 billion loan guarantee programme during Covid-19, amid allegations that Treasury was never consulted on it

The president denies this. He says, however, that businesses are being turned away and the government maybe has to lower the threshold for getting relief from the scheme. 

09 September 19:14

Ramaphosa is asked about the gender-based violence bills before parliament, and whether he has confident about whether law enforcement can indeed implement them

Ramaphosa says "commitment is real". He says he has "never been more serious about anything" other than addressing GBV and femicide. He promises the government will strengthen courts, judicial officers, prosecutors and police. 

He says women of the country will report, as time goes on, whether these changes have made a difference. He also says the government must embark on a drive to teach men about their role in gender-based violence. "We want to see men on the forefront of this... we want to see men complaining about how police turn women away," he says.

09 September 19:02

Ramaphosa is asked about the apparent slow pace of the justice system, citing reports that have been before institutions for years, but the pace of taking action against people was disappointing.

Ramaphosa says it is "absolutely right" that sometimes reports sit before legal bodies for a long time before action is taken, but says people challenge investigations before the courts. Ramaphosa nontheless agrees that too many delays happen.

He says, meanwhile, that the country should be looking at self-generation of energy because Eskom is struggling. 

09 September 18:54

Ramaphosa is asked on continued flak he is drawing from the public on the lack of prosecutions for corruption, and also allegations that he is "conflict-averse". 

Ramaphosa says he acknowledges the public's frustrations about the lack of movement regarding people involved in corruption getting prosecuted, saying rather it is his responsibility to strengthen those processes. He says people complain that the state capture process "hollowed-out" the justice system. He called it an "incapability warzone".

The president says that history will "absolve me" when it comes to corruption, because movement is happening, however slowly. He promises the country will "see change" when it comes to justice. 

He adds that, for the country to come out of the pandemic in strength, all stakeholders must pull together in one direction. He asks the public to be patient with the government on corruption and economic recovery. 

09 September 18:51

President Cyril Ramaphosa has told editors that he is "concerned" about excess natural deaths in the country, which may indicate many more deaths from Covid-19.

In response to a question from News24 editor Adriaan Basson, Ramaphosa said he is satisfied that the government did not base important decisions on wrong data and that he has had access to the best scientists.

He said there is always a "margin of error" and that government's data was "spot on".

Ramaphosa agreed with a call by the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) for death notifications to be streamlined.

09 September 18:40

Ramaphosa says the death notification process needs to be streamlined. He says government is working on making improvements.

09 September 18:39

Ramaphosa says data has been well advised and ventilated. 

09 September 18:37

He says government has been well advised. "We are dealing with people who are real professionals. We know we are getting the best advise," Ramaphosa adds.

09 September 18:37

On excess deaths : 

Ramaphosa says scientists have been to the national command council. He says deaths are not reported as quickly as they should. He says he doesn't believe decisions have been taken on wrong data.

09 September 18:35

Ramaphosa says it is important to build institutions and strengthen them to do their work.

09 September 18:34

On corruption and prosecutions:

Ramaphosa says there a number of people being investigated. SIU is reporting to him every six weeks. He says SIU is making considerable progress and charges are being prepared where necessary. He says the SIU has raised issue of resources, the unit is under-staffed. Resources will be provided to speed up their work.

09 September 18:29

Ramaphosa set to address the country next week, talks tough on Covid-19, corruption and the economy

President Cyril Ramaphosa says he will address the nation next week on a range of issues.

This as Ramaphosa expresses great concern about the country’s pandemic-hit economy and about avoiding a “second-wave” of Covid-19 cases, and corruption.

The president was answering questions in a virtual conference with the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef).

In opening remarks, Ramaphosa confirmed the government was intensifying its Covid-19 response, including strengthening contact tracing. He said the country could see “sudden surges” and the government was working at avoiding a second wave of infections.

The second issue is the economic recovery. Ramaphosa said the pandemic has had a “devastating” effect on the economy, and cited news on Tuesday of the 51% downscale of the economy.

He said the government was working with stakeholders to see how to develop a recovery strategy. He also said there will be a strategy on increasing new jobs.

The third area of focus is the issue of corruption. He said the “silver lining” to come out of the Covid-19 PPE corruption was that there will be transparency when it comes to contracts. The government will put in place measures to make this happen.

He said the government is looking at strengthening corruption-busiting measures in general.

The president also spoke of gender-based violence, saying the government is looking how best to fight it. He also said racism was still “rearing its ugly head”.

Ramaphosa said he will make ministers available for questions and answers from the media, especially since the economy has been in a poor state of late.

The president, meanwhile, said there was “action that we need to take” to advance the rights of journalists, especially when it came to harassment against reporters.

Sanef said it has raised more than R3 million after the jobs bloodbath in the media sector, and the forum has paid R5 000 to more than 200 recipients.

Its chairperson, Sbu Ngalwa, told Ramaphosa that journalists were still falling victim to harassment while carrying out their jobs, recently seen during the protests at Clicks outlets by members of the EFF.

Ngalwa said the forum is working on a memorandum which would instruct police on how to deal with journalists who are on the frontline.

 He extended condolences to members of the media who have died from Covid-19.

 - Kerushun Pillay

09 September 18:26

On racism, Ramaphosa says while significant progress has been made to build a none racial South Africa, there are "a few seeking to take us backwards".

09 September 18:25

Ramaphosa says government is looking at strengthening corruption-busting measures in general.

09 September 18:24

President Cyril Ramaphosa says he will address the nation next week on a range of issues.

This as Ramaphosa expresses great concern about the country’s pandemic-hit economy and about avoiding a “second-wave” of Covid-19 cases, and corruption.

He said the “silver lining” to come out of the Covid-19 PPE corruption was that there will be transparency when it comes to contracts. The government will put in place measures to make this happen.

09 September 18:17

Government is working with unions to ensure frontline workers receive all the necessary PPE to carry-out their work.

09 September 18:16

Ramaphosa says government is maintaining state of readiness for the second wave of infections by encouraging people to maintain prevention measures.

09 September 18:14

Ramaphosa congratulates Sanef's newly elected leadership. He also pays respects to journalists who have lost their lives to Covid-19 and expresses sorrow at the harassment that has been meted out to journalists. 

09 September 18:11

Ramaphosa says he welcomes the opportunity to engage with the country's editors. He says the engagement is long overdue.

09 September 17:56

The session gives editors, senior journalists and analysts an opportunity to put questions to the President on matters of national importance, including, currently, South Africa’s risk-adjusted strategy to limit the spread of the Covid-19, and the national effort towards economic reconstruction.

09 September 17:56

The engagement is part of the President’s ongoing dialogue with different sectors of society. It also fulfills a commitment the President gave SANEF during a similar engagement on 31 May 2020 that he would interact with SANEF and other media institutions as part of maintaining transparency and dialogue with various stakeholders in society.

09 September 17:56

President Cyril Ramaphosa is engaging with members of the South African National Editors Forum. It his second such engagement in five months.

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