Parliament, Friday 27 March 2020 – The Presiding Officers of Parliament, led by National Assembly Speaker Ms Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces Chairperson Mr Amos Masondo, urge all people in our country to abide by the 21-day nationwide lockdown, which is now in progress.
COVID-19 has now claimed two lives in the Western Cape. We convey our heartfelt condolences on behalf of Parliament to the families and friends of the deceased. COVID-19 has a presence in countries all over the world. To date, the rate of infection in South Africa has tipped the 1 000 mark, while globally tens of thousands people are infected, with thousands dying.
The coronavirus does not discriminate. People of various social class or standing, age, race or creed have been infected. Leaders in governments and a wide range of public figures, the rich and the poorest of the poor, those with weak or strong immunity, young and old all over the world are amongst the great numbers that have contracted the virus,
Today we have learned that two of our senior parliamentarians, African Christian Democratic Party leader Rev Kenneth Meshoe and Chief Whip Steve Swart, have contracted the virus. They were amongst those who attended a church conference in Bloemfontein two weeks ago, where one of the guests was later tested positive for COVID-19. Our prayers are with them and all those who have been infected, to beat the virus and recover fully.
We encourage Members of Parliament or any person who may have had close contact with Rev Meshoe and Mr Swart in the last two weeks, including at the precincts of Parliament, to isolate and get tested in accordance with the guidelines of the Department of Health and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
We are keenly aware that heeding the call to lockdown for 21 days will have a major impact on people’s lives. But it is vital to us curbing further rapid transmission of the virus, for which there is no cure as yet.
Our government has publicised details of who should stay at home during the lockdown, what essential services will be available and how people can access them. A raft of measures to cushion us from the economic and other effects of the lockdown have also been published widely.
We are keenly aware that we are embarking on a path not taken before. But the gravity of the situation demands this from each one of us – to ensure that we radically slow down the rate of infections, prevent infections from overwhelming our healthcare system and save lives.
With the correct attitude, personal and collective responsibility as well as care for others, our nation can be a shining example of what can be achieved if we work together.
Human behaviour is the most effective weapon in the fight against the virus. The need to alter our lifestyles during this period, ensure personal hygiene and follow all the guidelines publicised by government has never been more critical.
That means stepping up our personal hygiene by, amongst others:
- Washing our hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitisers for at least 20 seconds
- Covering our noses and mouths when we sneeze or cough with a tissue or flexed elbow
- Avoiding close contact with people with cold or flu-like symptoms
Effectively cutting back the spread of Covid-19 also means staying at home, not going to public places, like parks or beaches, and not having social gatherings. It means that, when we leave our homes to buy essential food or medicine, we keep at least one metre away from other people we encounter.
We appeal to everybody to co-operate with the South African Police Service, assisted by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), to ensure that the nationwide lockdown is complied with.
Both the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces have received a letter from President Cyril Ramaphosa regarding nationwide employment of 2 820 SANDF members. The SANDF members will remain deployed in all nine provinces over the period from 26 March to 26 June, at a cost of R641 200 290, and will co-operate with the police and support government efforts to combat spread of COVID19.
In line with the Rules of Parliament, the letter from the President has been published in Parliament’s papers, the ATC’s, for attention of Members of both Houses.
Members of Parliament, who are classified under the lockdown Regulations as amongst those performing essential services, will be fulfilling their constitutional responsibilities during this period in their constituencies in support of efforts against COVID-19.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
Enquiries: Moloto Mothapo 082 370 6930