The DA has called on the government’s plans to tackle the coronavirus to be tabled in Parliament. DA MP and party spokesperson on health, Siviwe Gwarube, addressed Parliament on Thursday afternoon and criticised the government’s handling of the coronavirus.
The DA had tabled a motion for discussion which focused on the coronavirus. The debate happened minutes after the Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize had announced the country’s first case of the covid-19 coronavirus.
The patient has been recorded as a 38-year-old South African man who had recently travelled to Italy with his wife. He was part of a group of 10 people who travelled from Italy where the virus has continued to spread with hundreds of cases being recorded. The man is from KwaZulu-Natal and is currently under isolation.
Gwarube said President Cyril Ramaphosa should have presented a plan to Parliament on how the virus would be dealt with as this was a matter of concern for all South Africans. The DA has also criticised the government’s plan to fly back South Africans who have been living in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the virus. Gwarube said the decision should have been discussed by all party’s in Parliament.
“Speaker, Parliament needs to assert itself as the main legislative arm of the state. We need to understand the role bestowed to us by the Constitution and take it seriously. In the midst of an epidemic that has been declared a global public health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO), plans to deal with this matter should be tabled in this House for scrutiny, discussion and adoption,” she said.
“It is important when the president convenes an inter-ministerial task team that decides to repatriate over 150 South Africans from Wuhan, China, the decision is tabled, scrutinized and adopted by Parliament. It does not bode well for the function of this House – which is enshrined in the Constitution – that issues of national significance are discussed in the press before the oversight arm of the state has had an opportunity to engage these plans.”
On Wednesday, Mkhize appeared before Parliament’s health committee and outlined the government’s readiness to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. He said 13 public hospitals had been identified to deal with any outbreaks. The minister told MPs that the department had ensured that all ports of entry had screening machines and thermal screening gadgets and they had ensured that immigration officers were equipped with masks.
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The first case of coronavirus in the country was confirmed on Thursday. A 38-year-old man who returned home from Italy began experiencing symptoms days after he arrived, Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, said. His family has been quarantined. Read more