Question NW807 to the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation

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21 May 2020 - NW807

Profile picture: Hlengwa, Mr M

Hlengwa, Mr M to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation

What (a) interventions and plans does the Government have with the (i) Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries and (ii) continental African Union governments to mitigate against the overburdening of the healthcare system of the Republic in the event of astronomical Covid – 19 transmissions and (b) are the relevant details of the assistance that the Republic is providing to the (i) SADC region and (ii) African continent to deal with the Covid – 19 pandemic? NW 1010E


Southern African Development Community (SADC)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) recorded its first case of COVID-19 in early March. As of 18 May, 2020 all the sixteen (16) SADC Member States have been affected by COVID-19.

In this regard, South Africa continues to share information aimed at slowing down the transmission and thus reducing mortality associated with COVID-19, with the ultimate aim of reaching and maintaining a state of low-level or no transmission.

Some of the short term measures that have been collectively undertaken by SADC Member States, include, but are not limited to:

a) facilitate the protection of frontline healthcare staff through the provision of protective equipment and promotion of best practices across the region’s healthcare facilities;

b) provide the necessary tools and equipment to support SADC Member States’ health care facilities with intensive care and ventilation needs for COVID-19 patients;

c) conduct needs assessment including existing human, financial and material resources; to promote awareness through the provision of information materials, guidelines and information kits; and

d) extend safety nets in form of food handouts, unemployment benefits and water and sanitation facilities.

In the medium term, the region will:

a) assess the socio-economic impact of the pandemic and develop a recovery plan; and

b) assess the effectiveness of existing frameworks and mechanisms for dealing with crises like the COVID-19 pandemic and propose ways of improving them.

This is based on principles of solidarity, reciprocity, and the common good.

African Union (AU)

Since the Outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has thus far resulted in over 300 000 deaths globally, with close to 3000 deaths in the Continent, President Cyril Ramaphosa in his capacity as Chairperson of the African Union for 2020 has expressed in several platforms, to voice concern about the devastating impact of the pandemic in the Continent and has underscored that the fight against the pandemic will require a coordinated and collaborative approach amongst Member States.

The Bureau of the AU, under the leadership of President Ramaphosa has also undertaken the following interventions which are aimed at 1) ensuring that the spread of COVID-19 is contained and 2) ensure that the are measures in place to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic.

On 26 March 2020 President convened teleconference meeting of the Bureau of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union to discuss AU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and, ahead of the G-20 virtual Summit held on 27 March 2020.The first Bureau meeting was followed by another teleconference meeting held on 3 April 2020. Both meetings discussed the impact of the COVID-19 virus in the Continent and agreed to establish a joint Continental strategy in response to COVID-19 as well as, the COVID-19 Response Fund. The meeting also agreed to mobilise support for the comprehensive economic stimulus package which will held to mitigate the economic risks that will affect the Continent as result of the virus. The meeting further express support for the waiver of debt and interest repayment in order to provide the African countries the fiscus space to deal effectively with the virus.

On 12 April 2020, the President Ramaphosa, in his capacity as Chair of the AU, appointed Special Envoys whose responsibility will be to reach out to the G-20 and the EU to solicit rapid and concrete assistance to help Africa in dealing with the scourge.In line with the decisions of the Bureau meeting held on 3 April 2020, the Bureau of the AU met with the Business Leader’s Forum of the African Union. During the the meeting the business leaders expressed support for the AU’s Continental strategy to combat the COVID-19 virus.

The Bureau of the AU met with chairpersons of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to discuss collaborative efforts between the AU and RECs in addressing the impact of COVID-19 on 29 April 2020. In addition, President Ramaphosa held numerous consultations with other world leaders, including the EU, the G-20 countries. The President also held discussions with leading organisations in the development space such as the World Bank Group, galvanising support for Africa’s and AU’s efforts to tackle the impact of the virus.

A virtual conference of the AU Bureau under the leadership and the Chairship of South Africa was held to look at ways and means to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, while also looking and gaging the needed support to the existing mechanisms of the Union to fight pandemics like this. President Ramaphosa made the following pledges which have been fulfilled by South Africa:

(a) Special Fund for COVID 19: R 71 200 000 towards the establishment of the COVID 19 Fund for Africa

(b)  Africa Centre for Disease Control:   R 35 600 000 to assist in the emergency response in the health care systems for AU member states

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