President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUPPLIED
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUPPLIED

President Cyril Ramaphosa has cancelled his scheduled address to the nation on Sunday night because the national command council’s meeting on Covid-19 he is chairing is dealing with “weighty issues” regarding the pandemic and is likely to go on until late.

This is according to minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu, who was addressing the media at the Union Buildings on Sunday night.

Mthembu said Ramaphosa will now address the nation on Monday “because we do not want to take short cuts”.

As of Sunday the total number of confirmed cases in SA stood at 274, an increase of 34 since Saturday, according to a brief statement from health minister Zweli Mkhize. He provided no further update on the number of local transmissions, which stood at 16 on Saturday.

“It will not be helpful for the president to speak to the people of South Africa when the structure that advises him, which is the national command council, has not concluded its business and looked at all the issues that affect South Africans.

“Let us assume that the meeting concludes at midnight, then it will be unfair for the president to address people who are sleeping.”

Mthembu said among the issues on the agenda of the meeting in session were questions on how to deal with the economic effect of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Among other issues is to look at the effect on our people by the coronavirus and how do we mitigate against that effect. So that is the issue before the national command council,” said Mthembu. “But [it is] also the effect of this virus on the poor, the vulnerable and workers and how should government respond [that is being discussed].

“It is not an easy matter. The meeting is continuing and is likely to continue until very late and therefore there is no possibility that the president will address the nation tonight [Sunday]. We are making [an] arrangement that the president address the nation tomorrow [Monday].”

With Tamar Kahn