Tag Archives: Cyril Ramaphosa

WATCH: ‘I am deeply sorry for my actions’ – Ndabeni-Abrahams

Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has publicly apologised for having lunch at the home of former deputy minister Mduduzi Manana during the ongoing lockdown period.

The Minister issued a statement as well as a video on Wednesday conveying her apology as directed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

She said, “I regret the incident and I am deeply sorry for my actions. I hope the President and South Africans will find it in their hearts to forgive me.”

‘I’ll abide by special leave’

Ndabeni-Abrahams added, “The President has put me on a special leave with immediate effect. I undertake to abide by the conditions of the special leave.

“I take this opportunity to reiterate the President’s call for all of us to observe the lockdown rules. They are a necessary intervention to curb the spread of a virus that has devastated many nations.”

In a statement earlier on Wednesday, Ramaphosa announced that he had placed Ndabeni-Abrahams on a two-month special leave, one of which will be unpaid.

He said he had accepted the Minister’s apology during their meeting on Tuesday, but had been “unmoved by mitigating factors she tendered.”

‘No one is above the law’

Ramaphosa said, “The nationwide lockdown calls for absolute compliance on the part of all South Africans.

“Members of the National Executive carry a special responsibility in setting an example to South Africans, who are having to make great sacrifices.

“None of us – not least a member of the National Executive – should undermine our national effort to save lives in this very serious situation.

“I am satisfied that Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams appreciates the seriousness of what she has done and that no one is above the law.”

The President also said the law should take its course regarding allegations that Ndabeni-Abrahams had violated the lockdown regulations.

On Tuesday, Manana attempted to defuse the controversy by claiming in a statement that Ndabeni-Abrahams was collecting personal protective equipment (PPE) at his home.

However, it appears this explanation failed to persuade Ramaphosa, who was facing pressure from opposition leaders and sections of the public to take strong action against the Minister.

Ramaphosa places Ndabeni-Abrahams on 2-month special leave, 1 unpaid

President Cyril Ramaphosa has placed Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on a two-month special leave, one of which will be unpaid.

In a statement on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said the law should take its course regarding allegations that Ndabeni-Abrahams had violated lockdown regulations.

A picture shared on social media on Saturday by former deputy minister Mduduzi Manana showed Ndabeni-Abrahams having lunch with Manana and his family at his private residence.

Public apology to the nation

This sparked speculation that the Minister may have violated lockdown regulations, which prohibit people from leaving their homes unless it is for essential purposes.

Manana released a statement on Tuesday saying Ndabeni-Abrahams was collecting personal protective equipment (PPEs) for students working on COVID-19 digital services.

Ramaphosa summoned the Minister on Tuesday, after which he accepted her apology “but was unmoved by mitigating factors she tendered.”

He also reprimanded Ndabeni-Abrahams and directed her to issue a public apology to the nation on the matter.

‘No one is above the law’

Ramaphosa said, “The nationwide lockdown calls for absolute compliance on the part of all South Africans. Members of the National Executive carry a special responsibility in setting an example to South Africans, who are having to make great sacrifices.

“None of us – not least a member of the National Executive – should undermine our national effort to save lives in this very serious situation.

“I am satisfied that Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams appreciates the seriousness of what she has done and that no one is above the law.”

Minister in The Presidency Jackson Mthembu will act in Ndabeni-Abrahams’ position for the two-month period.

Ndabeni-Abrahams had not yet issued her public apology at the time of publishing this article.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) had earlier called on Ramaphosa to lay a criminal complaint against the Minister and to remove her from the Cabinet.

Ramaphosa summons Ndabeni-Abrahams amid lockdown ‘violation’ controversy

President Cyril Ramaphosa has summoned Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams amid controversy surrounding her visit to former deputy minister Mduduzi Manana’s home over the weekend.

Speaking to journalists in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Ramaphosa said he had seen the pictures showing Ndabeni-Abrahams having a meal with Manana and other individuals.

He said, “I have asked her to come and see me, so she is going to come and see me and I am going to have a discussion with her about the impact of visuals like those on what we are trying to do.”

‘Social distancing is important’

The President added, “We are trying to instil a clear message to all our people that social distancing is important. Let us stay at home, let us not be going around with visitations and if you have to, it must be work-related.”

Manana posted the images on Instagram over the weekend, but deleted them soon afterwards. Nevertheless, screenshots emerged on Twitter on Monday.

He captioned the pictures, “It was great to host a former colleague and dear sister comrade Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on her way back from executing critical and services required for the effective functioning of our country during the nationwide lockdown.”

Opposition leaders soon accused Ndabeni-Abrahams of violating the COVID-19 lockdown regulations.

Ndabeni-Abrahams ‘must set an example’

Democratic Alliance (DA) MP and shadow communications minister Phumzile van Damme tweeted, “[Ndabeni-Abrahams] is a leader and must set an example. I hope [Ramaphosa] takes strong action against her.

“While MPs (she is one) are considered an essential service, visiting Mdu Manana (he is not a public representative) does NOT constitute the discharging of a duty related to her office. She mustn’t even try it with that excuse.”

One South Africa Movement leader Mmusi Maimane added, “Eita @CyrilRamaphosa, we can’t have favourites doing as they please. This virus does not care who is a minister and who is not.

“How is it that some see it fit to violate lockdown regulations to have dinner with their exiled colleagues? Can you ask them at close range?”

In a leaked letter to African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee (NEC) members, ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte also called for “sensitivity” on social media. Manana is an NEC member.

Duarte wrote, “Let us lead by example and demonstrate political consciousness and sensitivity in our conduct and communication, especially on social media.

“Photos of opulent living and consumption of non-essential substances should be avoided. We must be seen to lead in both the letter and spirit of the national lockdown.”

Ramaphosa: Govt to launch mass coronavirus testing, confirmed cases rise to 1,326

The government will soon launch a “far-reaching and intensive” coronavirus (COVID-19) screening and testing drive around the country, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced.

In an address to the nation on Monday evening, Ramaphosa also said the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa has risen to 1,326, with three deaths so far.

He said, “We are now entering a new face in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. In the coming days, government will be rolling out a screening, testing, tracing and medical management programme on a huge scale.”

10,000 fieldworkers

The President added, “Around 10,000 fieldworkers will be visiting homes in villages, towns and cities to screen residents for coronavirus symptoms. People with symptoms will be referred to local clinics or mobile clinics for testing.

“People who are infected with coronavirus but who have no or moderate symptoms will remain in isolation at home or at a facility provided by government, and those with severe symptoms will be transferred to hospitals.”

The government will also use mobile technology to trace those who have been in contact with confirmed coronavirus cases and to monitor the geographical spread of new cases, he added.

Ramaphosa thanked South Africans for acting in a “disciplined” manner during this period and reiterated that implementing the lockdown was “the correct decision.”

Moody’s downgrade

Ramaphosa also said the recent Moody’s rating agency’s downgrade of South Africa to a sub-investment grade will negatively affect the economy.

He added, “This development will not diminish in any way our response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Within the constraints of the current crisis, we remain committed to implementing structural economic reforms to address weak economic growth, address constrained public finances and struggling state-owned enterprises.”

The President further announced that the government is urgently developing additional measures for informal businesses and self-employed South Africans who have been hit hard by the lockdown.

Motsepe and Naspers donations

Additionally, he thanked entities that have made commitments to donate funds and supplies towards the fight against COVID-19.

Specifically, he mentioned the Motsepe Foundation (R1 billion), the Naspers Company (R1.5 billion), and Alibaba founder Jack Ma (vital medical supplies).

“We would like to thank our nurses, doctors and other health workers, our social workers and frontline government staff, and volunteers and NGOs who are leading the fight against the disease,” Ramaphosa added.

The President addressed concerns that some security personnel, including the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), have been heavy handed in their approach to enforcing the lockdown.

He said, “We have made it clear that the task of our security personnel is to support, reassure and comfort our people, and to ensure that peace and order is maintained in our country.

“They know that they must act within the law at all times and that they must not cause harm to any of our people in any way whatsoever.”

SA lockdown: 2,820 SANDF members deployed at a cost of R641m – Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa has formally notified Parliament of the “employment” of members of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to ensure implementation of the 21-day nationwide lockdown.

In his letter the Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise on Thursday, Ramaphosa said he had authorised the employment of 2,820 SANDF members.

He said the employment is “for a service in cooperation with the SA Police Service in order to maintain law and order, support other State departments and to control our border line in order to combat the spread of COVID-19.”

Expected cost around R641m

The lockdown started at midnight on Thursday and will be in place until midnight on Thursday, 16 April. In terms of the Constitution, the President is required to notify Parliament of the deployment of SANDF members.

Ramaphosa added, “Members of the SANDF will be employed in all nine provinces. This employment is authorised in accordance with section 201(2)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 and section 18(1) of the Defence Act, 2002.

“The employment will be over the period from 26 March, 2020 to 26 June, 2020. The expenditure expected to be incurred for this employment is R641,200,290.”

Ramaphosa’s letter means the SANDF could be deployed for longer than the 21-day period of the lockdown. Siviwe Gwaruba, Democratic Alliance (DA) and spokesperson for the health portfolio, speculated on Twitter that the lockdown could also be extended.

‘Life-saving mission’

On Thursday evening, Ramaphosa addressed SANDF members at the Doornkop Military Base in Johannesburg before their deployment.

He said, “Our people will be looking to you to give them assurance, not as a force of might, but as a force of kindness. They must know that you will be looking after them. Go and support our people. Go and defend our people.

“Go out and have the best of missions. This is a mercy mission, this is a life-restoration mission, this is a life-saving mission, [and] this is a life-giving mission. Go out and save the lives of South Africans.”

According to the lockdown regulations gazetted on Wednesday, people will be confined to their residences for 21 days “unless strictly for the purpose of performing an essential service, obtaining an essential good or service, collecting a social grant, or seeking emergency, life-saving or chronic medical attention.”

Meanwhile, South Africa has registered its first loss of lives to COVID-19, according to an update by Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Friday morning.

He said, “These two deaths occurred in the Western Cape, one at a private hospital and the other at a public hospital. We will give details later on when we announce the latest confirmed COVID-19 cases, which have increased from yesterday’s number and have tipped the 1,000 mark.”

Ramaphosa tests negative for coronavirus after ‘precautionary’ testing

President Cyril Ramaphosa has tested negative for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Presidency said in a statement on Thursday.

Ramaphosa got tested on Tuesday, 24 March as a precautionary measure following advice from his physicians and received the results on Wednesday evening.

The Presidency said, “As Head of State and Chair of the National Command Council (NCC) the President has a rigorous public engagements schedule and has, during the course of the last few weeks, held numerous meetings with a wide cross section of people from all walks of life.”

‘President is in good health’

It added, “In line with international guidelines as well as those of the Department of Health, testing is recommended if you experience symptoms, if you live in or recently travelled to an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19 or if you have been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19.

“The Presidency has deemed it necessary to make the test results public to reassure the nation that the President is in good health and continues with his duties.”

Concerns about Ramaphosa’s health were raised when African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader Rev Kenneth Meshoe announced on Sunday (22 March) that he had decided to get tested for coronavirus.

Meshoe was among political party leaders with whom Ramaphosa held a consultative meeting on the pandemic in Cape Town on 17 March.

Meshoe still awaiting results

Meshoe’s decision to get tested came after five tourists who attended the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast hosted by the Divine Restoration Ministries in Bloemfontein on 10-11 March tested positive. Meshoe also attended the event.

In a statement on Sunday, the Presidency said, “At this point in time there is no cause for concern about the President’s health or reason for the President to be tested. To the best of the President’s knowledge, no person with whom he has recently had contact – including Rev Meshoe – has symptoms of or tested positive for the virus.”

In an update on Twitter on Wednesday, the ACDP said Meshoe is still awaiting the results of his test and remains in self-isolation.

“While we wait for the #Covid19SA test results for @RevMeshoe, be assured he remains in self isolation, still without symptoms and in fervent support and prayer for the nation, especially during this pandemic,” the party said.

Ramaphosa has similarly called on South Africans to observe Thursday, the eve of the 21-day lockdown, as a national day of prayer.

He said in a statement on Wednesday, “I call on all our people, whether they are religious or not, wherever they are, on Thursday the 26th of March to observe a moment of silence in a show of social solidarity.”

Ramaphosa calls for national day of prayer on eve of COVID-19 lockdown

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on South Africans to participate in a National Day of Prayer “wherever they are” on Thursday, 26 March, the eve of the 21-day nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, Ramaphosa urged citizens “to observe two minutes of prayer, reflection or silent meditation on Thursday, 26 March, 2020 between 18:00 and 18:30 hours.”

He said, “These are challenging times. We are traversing a path we have never travelled before. There are many amongst us who are fearful, uncertain and vulnerable. I call on our people to offer a prayer and a thought for the protection and healing of our land and its people from this disease.”

‘Show of social solidarity’

The President said because the nationwide lockdown and national state of disaster prohibit large gatherings, “our prayers must be offered from our hearts and in our homes.”

The proposal for a National Day of Prayer emerged from a meeting Ramaphosa had with religious leaders last week and is aimed at showing solidarity with those affected by COVID-19 in the country and around the world.

Ramaphosa said, “The international occurrence of the coronavirus pandemic has affirmed yet again that the challenge we face is a global one and one we cannot overcome alone. 

“I call on all our people, whether they are religious or not, wherever they are, on Thursday the 26th of March to observe a moment of silence in a show of social solidarity.”

#PrayForSouthAfrica

The President said the thoughts of South Africans should particularly be with those who are in hospitals, quarantine or self-isolation.

He also urged citizens to keep healthcare workers, emergency personnel, police, traffic officers, military and members of the media in their thoughts.

Ramaphosa further urged South Africans to “demonstrate their solidarity with fellow South Africans by displaying our inspiring national flag on social media (#PrayForSouthAfrica), outside their homes and other prominent places as an act of compassion and unity during the national lockdown.”

“The coming weeks will sorely test our resolve and patience. For millions of South Africans for whom faith is a source of hope and courage, this difficult time must strengthen and unite us as never before,” he said.

The lockdown will begin just after midnight on Thursday night and will be in force for 21 days until midnight on Thursday, 16 April.

According to the lockdown regulations gazetted on Wednesday, people will be confined to their residences for 21 days “unless strictly for the purpose of performing an essential service, obtaining an essential good or service, collecting a social grant, or seeking emergency, life-saving or chronic medical attention.”

SA’s 21-day lockdown fast facts: What it means and who is exempted

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown in South Africa starting from midnight on Thursday, 26 March to midnight on Thursday, 16 April.

In his address to the nation, Ramaphosa said without decisive action, the number of South Africans infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) “will rapidly increase from a few hundred to tens of thousands, and within a few weeks to hundreds of thousands.”

A nationwide lockdown is therefore necessary to “save millions of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.”

Lockdown: What it means

The lockdown will be enacted in terms of the National Disaster Act and will compel all South Africans, with certain exemptions, to stay at home for 21 days. This is aimed at breaking the coronavirus chain of transmission.

Individuals will not be permitted to leave their homes except under “strictly controlled circumstances.” These circumstances include buying food, medicine and other supplies or collecting social grants.

All shops and businesses will be closed except for certain exemptions. Homeless people will be placed in temporary shelters. Government will provide quarantine sites for those who are not able to self-quarantine at home.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will be deployed to support the South African Police Service (SAPS) in enforcing the lockdown.

Lockdown exemptions

Individuals working in the following categories will be exempted: health workers in the public and private sectors; emergency personnel; and security services (police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers).

Other exemptions include those involved in the production, distribution and supply of food and basic goods, essential banking services, the maintenance of power, water and telecommunications services, laboratory services, and the provision of medical and hygiene products.

Exempted shops and businesses: pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services including the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers.

Companies involved in the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will also be exempted.

“Provision will be made for essential transport services to continue, including transport for essential staff and for patients who need to be managed elsewhere,” Ramaphosa said.

The President added that a full list of exempted individuals, personnel and companies/businesses will be published in a few days.

Presidency on Meshoe’s coronavirus test: No cause for concern for Ramaphosa’s health

The Presidency has moved to reassure South Africans that there is no cause for concern about President Cyril Ramaphosa’s health.

In a statement on Sunday evening, the Presidency welcomed African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader Rev Kenneth Meshoe’s announcement that he has been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Meshoe was among political party leaders with whom Ramaphosa held a consultative meeting in Cape Town on Tuesday last week (17 March).

‘No cause for concern’

He decided to get tested after five people who attended the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast hosted by the Divine Restoration Ministries in Bloemfontein, which he also attended, tested positive for coronavirus. The Prayer Breakfast was held on 10-11 March.

The Presidency said, “The Presidency welcomes Rev Meshoe’s adherence to the testing protocol and wishes him well as he awaits his results.

“The President himself is in good health and is observing the announced protocols as stringently as he can while performing his duties.

“At this point in time there is no cause for concern about the President’s health or reason for the President to be tested. To the best of the President’s knowledge, no person with whom he has recently had contact – including Rev Meshoe – has symptoms of or tested positive for the virus.”

I have no symptoms – Meshoe

In a Twitter post on Sunday, Meshoe said he decided to get tested even though he has no symptoms of COVID-19.

He added, “The officials that came were very professional and respectful. After the testing one of them said, ‘You don’t look like you have the virus; you look strong and healthy for your age.'”

The five people who tested positive are all tourists. Two are from the United States, two from Israel and one from France. They arrived in South Africa between 9 and 11 March.

An update from Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize last week indicated that more than 200 people attended the Prayer Breakfast.

Ramaphosa was meant to address the nation on Sunday, but the address was postponed to Monday because the National Command Council was still meeting.

As of Saturday, South Africa had a total of 240 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal having the majority of cases.

COVID-19 confirmed cases in SA now at 150 – Ramaphosa

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) has now risen to 150, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced.

Ramaphosa revealed this during a media briefing after his meeting with religious leaders in Pretoria on Thursday.

“The level of infections has now risen to 150 and that for us is concerning because that already tells us if you extrapolate that it could start rising in greater numbers,” he said.

34 new cases in one day

The Department of Health has not yet announced a breakdown per province of the new cases.

Ramaphosa’s announcement means that the number of confirmed cases has risen by 34 since the last announcement on Wednesday. Of these, two are locally transmitted, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

The President hailed his meeting with the religious leaders as “constructive” and said there was an agreement to cancel large religious gatherings and to have a national day of prayer.

The government has gazetted various restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, including a ban on gatherings of more than 100 people.

SA Zionist churches to hold Easter service

Religious organisations that attended the meeting included the SA Council of Churches, the Anglican Church, the Dutch Reform Church, the Nazareth Baptist Church, and representatives of the Muslim faith, among others.

Head of the SA Council of Churches Bishop Malusi Mpulwana spoke out against some religious groups that have resisted the government’s measures.

Mpulwana said, “Churches who refuse to do this could face charges of endangering [people’s] lives.”

His comments come after Bishop Bheki Ngcobo, the spokesperson of the SA Zionist Churches, said their Easter services would go ahead.

Speaking to SABC News, he said, “Why are companies still allowed to operate? They were given the precautions and those companies have more than a thousand workers in one building.

“But only the church must not go and worship the Lord. I am not disputing what the President is saying because it is his country, but I do understand that in South Africa God is there. In our congregation, we agreed that we are going to worship the Lord in numbers.”

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