Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has urged South Africa’s private hospitals to avoid nationalisation by cooperating with the government’s efforts to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Malema made the comments while speaking at a media briefing following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s consultation with political parties represented in Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday.
He said, “We call upon private hospitals, that the only way to avoid nationalisation of those private hospitals is by fully cooperating with the Minister of Health when he needs beds for our sick people.”
John Steenhuisen’s call to big business
Malema also urged businesses selling hygiene items such as sanitisers, gloves and face masks not to “maximise profit out of this crisis.”
“As the EFF, we fully support the initiative of government and we call upon all South Africans to listen to the leadership of our government and follow exactly as we are told,” Malema added.
Democratic Alliance (DA) interim leader John Steenhuisen also expressed his party’s support for the government’s interventions. He urged South Africans to stop panic buying of sanitary and food supplies.
Steenhuisen added, “I would like to make an appeal to the private sector and big business in particular to get involved in the effort. This is something that is going to require the best efforts of all South Africans to come together and fight this virus and its effects on our economy.”
‘Unprecedented moment’ – Ramaphosa
Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said it is South Africans who, by following all the government’s guidelines correctly, would prevent an escalation from a state of national disaster to a state of emergency.
For his part, President Ramaphosa appreciated the commitment of all the parties to unite and work together to address the coronavirus crisis.
He said, “We all agreed that this is an unprecedented moment. We have not seen anything as serious as this confronting the entire nation.
“We agreed that regardless of our political persuasions [and] our political differences, all of us share a common desire to keep our people safe, but also to mitigate the impact of this virus on our economy.”
Ramaphosa also appealed to members of the public to refrain from making excessive purchases at retail stores.
“It is important to understand that the supply of goods remains continuous in South Africa. Supply chains remain intact and there is no need for stockpiling of any items,” he said.
As of Wednesday morning, there were 116 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa. Of these, a total of 15 were locally transmitted.