COVID-19 Outbreak – And its devastating Impact on the South African Economy
Current Corona Virus Statistics
Today, June 12, 2020, three months into the national lockdown, South African Corona Virus levels have escalated to more than 65,000 confirmed cases. The COVID-19-related death-toll has reached 2,000, with the recovery rate standing at a reassuring 35,000 during the national lockdown.
sent in by: Felicity M Hartze
Background South Africa – Covid-19 statistics
On March 05th, 2020, South Africa (S.A.) had its first confirmed case of the Corona Virus. As co-travelers were being traced for testing, the Minister of Health issued the first national press release to confirm S.A’s first COVID-19 case. This was followed by daily press briefings to keep citizens updated on the status quo.
On March 15, 2020, in a special address to the nation, President Ramaphosa declared the country a ‘national state of disaster’ and instituted a national lockdown. He explained that this was a coordinated approach by the S.A. Government towards flattening the COVID-19 curve over the next month. These drastic measures were coupled with a new language, ‘social distancing’, and ‘elbow greeting’.
The President was lauded for his swift, bold action. The S.A. National and Provincial Government stood united in the face of this silent, invisible killer. Citizens would be safe-guarded from being infected and the threat of the virus would be contained.
The socio-economic fall-out
Three weeks into the lockdown the cries of distraught mothers on the evening news bulletin filled our living rooms, “we will not die of COVID 19, we and our children will die of hunger!” What may have been a solution in a country where most things were equal was fraught with impending social, economic, and political disaster.
In the 4th week, the President announced an R500 Billion (about $29.3 Billion) immediate relief plan to support the poorest, most vulnerable citizens, distressed business owners, those who lost their jobs and income, protective and preventive resources, and to boost a downward-spiraling economy. At this stage, there were reports of more than 1million job losses for the year and thousands of businesses forced into closure.
The country is now in its third month and at Level 3 of the national lockdown. Some restrictions have been relaxed (except masks in public places and social distancing). On the surface, it looks like business as usual judging from the traffic on the previously deserted roads. But normalcy does not live here!
The South African future scenario in the mining, industrial, and business sectors is overshadowed by dark, ominous clouds of further job losses, rising poverty, uncertainty, and fear. The Corona Virus continues its path of destruction with new infections and the death toll rising daily.
The impact on South African Politics
South African politics now faces a new dilemma in that the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic may directly impact the preliminary processes leading up to the 2021 local government elections. Three of the country’s major metros have already been caught in a maelstrom of problems during the past year. The communities caught in the middle are frustrated and angry at the appalling service delivery and poor governance.
If the elections are postponed beyond November 2021, these problems will simply escalate. However, whatever the outcome, President Ramaphosa’s swift action and dynamic leadership in the face of the advancing threat of the Corona Virus will undoubtedly have an impact on the pols!
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