Ramaphosa's Administration vs Covid 19 Crisis

By Phumzile Mavimbela

In December 2019 Wuhan a city in the Republic of China was hit by Corona virus the first of its kind. Within the blink of an eye it had crossed to different regions, cities, towns, countries and continents. This was a dilemma which dropped the jaws of many world leaders. So much so that world leading countries such as the United States of America and Russia whom many leaders across the globe look up to for solutions, themselves could not control nor contain this flu like pandemic. 

On the 5th of March 2020 South Africa was clearly not an exception from the Covid 19 war, as it reported its first Covid 19 case. A week later the country saw a rapid spread and increase of the novel Corona Virus. 

 It is worth being noted that because this was the first Covid pandemic to ever hit the globe the actions taken by different government administrations would be put under scrutiny. One of the most unfortunate set of truths is that no action taken by any President would satisfy everyone’s preferences. In times like this the head of the state or the governing administration can either make or break a country’s fortunes. South Africa is said to be one of the countries which had a quick response in taking stringent measures to curb the spread of the virus. Lets us  reflect on some of the decisions taken by President Ramaphosa and his Administration in the fight against  Covid 19. The reflection is an attempt to try and see if the Ramaphosa led government successfully handled Covid crises or not.  

Within the first 30 days of the pandemic South Africa conducted more tests compared to other leading global power houses such as the United States and South Korea. Global Covid 19 Statistics showed that South Africa better handled the transmission rate when compared to other countries such as China, The United Kingdom, United States and other countries. 

In March 2020 the President announced that the country would go on lock down which brought a shut down on most economic activities including international travelling, schools and universities. The lockdown regulations also banned the sale of alcohol, tobacco and restricted traveling. 

The lock down only allowed  essential activities to continue. This move was progressive in curbing the spread however it led to lose of jobs and had an adverse effect on economic growth. Unlike leaders such as Donald trump who took an approach that prioritised the economy above social aspects. President Ramaphosa  prioritised the nation and it's citizens above the economy of the country.  Though the lock down vividly played  a vital role in containing the spread of the virus. However such a decision didn’t come without repercussions. 

Firstly though the aim of the lock down  was to contain the spread of the virus, it is still devastating to know to know that the country lost hundreds of its citizens to the pandemic. However when measured in the global scale South Africa performed and is still performing  better than other  world class countries. The recovery rate is still impressive as the department of health notes  to approximately  on 85% . This does suggest that the government had a better approach in how they handled the crises compared to other countries. However not all was or is  roses and gold because this crisis has pointed out many  grey areas in the Ramaphosa administration holistically . 

According to news 24 approximately 3 million people lost their jobs between February and April in South Africa, the unemployment rate continued to increase rapidly after April as the lock down continued to intensify the dilemma. This is one of the many repercussions the decision to put the country under lock down yielded . 

What worsened the situation are the  economic inequalities that already existed in country Pre Covid 19. The attempts made by the government to get aid from the International Monetary fund and World Bank at least assisted those who were unemployment to purchase basics and essentials. 

However the distribution of the funds and food parcels further highlighted corruption in government officials. Also the mismanagement  of the borrowed funds further pointed out loop holes in the Ramaphosa Administration. 

The pandemic also pointed out gaps in the health care system. Though the government’s move to turn government buildings, halls, guest houses and other facilities as places that help aid Covid Patients was an effective approach that eased the dire situation. Many questioned how the department of health handled the situation. These concerns were also fuelled by inconsistences in how the department used the funds allocated in purchasing medical supplies such as Personal Protective Equipment , beds and medical machinery. Such recklessness left health care workers vulnerable to the virus. 

The subsequent decision made by the president to establish a commitee to look into how different departments used the  Covid 19 funds does reflect an attempt in his presidency to rid the country of corruption and to continue championing the interests of the citizens . However the question that lies at hand is why the President in the first place had not established committees that would track the spending as well service delivery within different departments to maintain transparency and efficiency in such times of crises. 

  President Cyril Ramaphosa has, following a decision taken by Cabinet at its meeting of Wednesday, 5 August 2020, appointed a Committee of Ministers to deal with allegations of corruption associated with the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. 
Alcohol and tobacco companies contribute a large stake into economic growth.  The ban made the country to loose R320 million in uncollected VAT per month. In total, SARS therefore lost R1.5 billion per month. This meant that the  country continued to lose money. However due to the fact that alcohol reduces the levels of reasoning and causes people to act reckless when intoxicated and the fact that smoking weakens the respiratory system making the victim more vulnerable to being badly affected by the pandemic . This demonstrated that the decision that Ramaphosa took still prioritised the countries citizens before economic stability. 

The overall judgment on how the President and his administration are handling the Covid 19 crisis will be reflected post the Covid 19 war. This is when the country will need effective governance now, more than ever before. Yes there are many inconsistencies in how the government is dealing with the many life changing events the pandemic is serving . 

The President has reflected an approach of putting his citizens before the economy. I agree that this points is debatable. However when our Country’s lock down is compared to other countries, we  have notably demonstrated that our people come before the economy.  Many have taken to the streets of social media and others have literally taken their placards to the streets. Demanding that the President lifts the lock down and opens the country's  borders. The steady response and precautions that government is making will ensure that should a second wave hit the country it will not be affected is it was by the first one. 

 The truth is no world leader had a manual on how to respond to this pandemic. Yes, jobs were lost, our local communities were exposed to  extreme poverty and many businesses had to shut down. However every war has it’s causalities and in this case it was a gamble between lives and the strength of the economy. The real work is set to begin post Covid when the country has to pick up the pieces and start over.  As mentioned above this is when the government needs to prove if it is for the people or not. Overall I believe that Ramaphosa’s response to the crisis has been fair. 

Article Tags




Covid19 in South Africa

Corona Virus

Phumzile Mavimbela


    Most Read