POLITICAL WEEK AHEAD: Cyril Ramaphosa due to visit the Western Cape
Health minister Zweli Mkhize promises to bring in more epidemiologists and experts
As SA enters the second week of the level 4 lockdown, President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to visit the Western Cape, now the epicentre of the virus in the country, later in the week.
SA has more than 9,000 reported cases of coronavirus, with the Western Cape accounting for more than half of those.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize met Western Cape provincial government leaders at the weekend because of concerns around the rapid increase of numbers in the province.
“It means you have a situation where the outbreak has moved faster than we might have anticipated,” he said.
Mkhize was satisfied with the way the province is managing its cases but said more epidemiologists and experts would be brought in to reinforce the response to the virus.
Ramaphosa is expected to visit the province on Friday and will call in at the Eastern Cape on Thursday.
The Eastern Cape has been criticised for its handling of the virus, especially in Nelson Mandela Bay. In April, Mkhize reportedly read the riot act to the province’s health MEC, Sindiswa Gomba. The Eastern Cape has just over 1,000 cases.
Parliamentary committees will continue to hold meetings through digital platforms this week.
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan and business rescue practitioners will brief parliament’s select committee on public accounts and the portfolio committee on plans for SAA and SA Express. Both state-owned airlines are in business rescue.
SA Express has since been placed under provisional liquidation after an application lodged by the business practitioners in court.
Trade unions at SAA on Friday won a crucial victory in the labour court when the court set aside the retrenchment notices issued to employees by the business rescue practitioners.
Practitioners Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana are attempting to wind down the company, which will include the retrenchment of all employees. Gordhan, however, is opposed to the wind-down and wants to form a new airline out of the ashes of SAA.
The minister was expected to have presented “an alternative” plan for the rescue of the airline on Friday last week.
On Saturday, public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is expected to brief parliament’s justice committee on her office’s strategic and annual performance plan for 2020/2021.
On Monday, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) will brief parliament’s transport committee on its corporate plan. Transport minister Fikile Mbalula and Prasa administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo will brief the committee on plans to turn the entity around.
Last week Mpondo said the embattled rail agency had lost R199m since the enforcement of the national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, and this had resulted in further cash constraints on its already strained financial situation.