Parliament, Saturday 18 July 2020 – Today, we celebrate Mandela Day during a period where Covid-19, a deadly novel virus that has changed how we interact with each other, is likely to reach its peak.
After 114 days of different levels of a phased lockdown, whose aim was to flatten the infection curve, we now have to deal with the exponential increase in infections in some provinces.
This period, which had a devastating effect on the economy and the livelihoods of many in our country, requires that we stand socially distanced from each other but side-by-side while we continue to stop the spread of infection.
As we celebrate and honour the legacy of the Founding Father of our democracy, Tata Nelson Mandela, we remember his words when he said: “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears."
The choices we make individually, and collectively, should reflect our hope that we will win this fight against this virus. Choosing to stay at home or going out only to get essential goods, while observing all hygiene protocols, is a reflection of our collective hope that we are working to survive beyond the inconveniences brought about by the disease.
With our collective efforts, much has been achieved. We are at a comparatively much better situation than many countries. However, we must still observe social distancing, wash our hands regularly and wear protective equipment like masks and face shields.
Addressing a plenary of the National Assembly recently Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, reminded us that “Covid-19 will not be defeated in hospitals but in our communities.”
As Parliament, we would also like to urge every person living in South Africa today to ensure that whatever action they take is for the common good. The regulations that the government has put in place are designed to minimise the spread of the virus. We must follow the exemplary, selfless leadership of Tata Madiba and his peers, and put the health of all around us at home and in our communities first.
As Madiba said, “a fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.”
The post-coronavirus period will require all of us to find ways to recover our economy, to reinstate the lost livelihoods of the majority and to continue our efforts of bringing about a just and equitable society.
Parliament has during this time continued to intensify its scrutiny of executive action, passed legislation and facilitated people’s engagement in the battle against this pandemic.
As we honour Madiba, we must at all times strive to emulate his noble values and principles, care for others, stand with each other, fight for one another and protect each other against this pandemic. Madiba's revolutionary life has taught us that, with resilience, courage and determination, we can overcome even the most challenging battles.
We stand in solidarity with all the unsung and selfless heroes at the forefront of the battle against this cruel and devastating enemy, such as doctors, nurses, scientists, police officers, amongst others.
It is in the hands of all of us, united in our diversity, to make a difference and build a truly free, democratic and prosperous nation.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
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