Dear Chairperson of the National Coronavirus Command Council
IMPORTANT MATTERS TO CONSIDER DURING THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN REVIEW
I wish to thank you for taking us, as political parties and stakeholders in South African society, for the confidence you showed in consulting us regarding the COVID-19 lockdown. We still endorse this critical move to find a lasting solution.
We realise that this is a trial-and-error process and in line with your announcement that the decision for a lockdown will be reviewed, I ,yesterday, took it upon myself to do a snapshot survey asking South Africans the following on my social networks:
“South African Review of Lockdown. We are past the halfway mark of the 21-day lockdown period and the government is busy reviewing the effectiveness of the lockdown in preventing the spread of Covid-19. Which regulations do you think should be reviewed and why? I intend compiling your suggestions and submit them to the President since he involved us as leaders of political parties right from the beginning in this coronavirus saga. I anticipate that he might consult us once more, if he intends to make changes. All the best.”
Please note that, browsing through these comments, people, amongst others, are calling for government to carefully investigate the economic impact of the lockdown, given that the socio-economic conditions of South Africans are remarkably diverse and that no one solution can fit all.
I submit these comments as is, but it should go a long way in finding a lasting solution; please see their comments and proposals on Twitter and Facebook. There are a number of well thought through ideas and comments from the people closest to this pandemic. Please also see the attached email from Ms Diane Redelinghuys for some additional suggestions.
However, please note that the United Democratic Movement (UDM) is concerned that there are signs of maladministration regarding tenders during this time as evidenced in the City Press article: “Outrage over Gauteng’s 24-hour, R30m express tender” published on 5 April 2020.
See also a Sunday Times article of 5 April 2020 “‘Sub-standard sanitisers, masks for soldiers’” and “Soldiers ‘forced’ to patrol streets during lockdown in ‘unsafe gear‘” regarding R10 million that had been spent on allegedly unsafe sanitisers and masks.
There are also allegations of a R50 million tender allocated to a certain Kirinox non-profit organisation to provide services for the homeless and street children’s shelters (see the announcement by the Deputy Minister of Social Development on the left). We hear that this NPO has already submitted an invoice for R20 million.
Regarding Minister Ndabeni Abrahams’ now infamous visit to Mr Mduduzi Manana’s house during lockdown, the jury is still out as to exactly what was being discussed in a situation where you have a minister and staff of the presidency present, and that the host had the temerity to say that the minister only came to fetch personal protective equipment, as a donation from his foundation.
There are legitimate worries that this could be the tip of the iceberg and since Parliament and the provincial legislatures are shut down, there is no level of oversight and monitoring. In addition, people are concerned that there is no mechanism in place where any suspected maladministration and corruption can be reported.
The UDM would therefore suggest that a small body be put in place, comprised of representatives of the Human Rights Commission, National Treasury, the Special Investigation Unit, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Auditor General, the Hawks and the police, to monitor government’s tendering processes during this time.
This oversight and monitoring body, chaired by a judge, should be given the necessary powers to act, as ministers and deputy-ministers tend to give political directives to accounting officers. Given the history of this country, we cannot rely on the word of ministers and/or deputy-ministers in these matters.
We hope that you and your colleagues will take our citizens’ and the UDM’s suggestions on board in the review of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP