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Ramaphosa strikes balance with regional Covid-19 measures – Mavuso


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Ramaphosa strikes balance with regional Covid-19 measures – Mavuso

Business Leadership South Africa CEO Busi Mavuso
Photo by Donna Slater
Business Leadership South Africa CEO Busi Mavuso

7th December 2020

By: Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer


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Although Business Leadership South Africa CEO Busi Mavuso says government has “not always” gotten the appropriate management of the Covid-19 pandemic right, she says President Cyril Ramaphosa’s nuanced approach with imposing more stringent local measures in early December showed the “right balance”.

She notes that the economic damage caused by the pandemic was always going to be significant, challenged further by trying to avoid unnecessary harm while containing it.


“We are some way from winning the war. We cannot let our guard down until a vaccine has been widely deployed. That is several months away at best and we must keep the virus under control until then.”

As such, Mavuso says that, until a vaccine is made available locally, intervention is still required when infection rates spike as domestic health systems become increasingly burdened. However, she says that such intervention must be targeted in application to limit the collateral damage and that this is not always easy from a public policy point of view.


“Limited, targeted measures are more complex and therefore difficult to enforce on the ground. A national lockdown avoids arguments about where lines should be drawn between areas.”

Although a blanket regulation makes it simple for both the public and law enforcement to understand what must be done, the resultant collateral damage to the economy is “enormous”, states Mavuso.

She says the measures imposed on Nelson Mandela Bay, where the infection spike has been serious, will be tough for the area, but the fallout will be less than with wider constraints.

In addition, Mavuso says Ramaphosa resisted imposing stricter measures on the Garden Route – for which the December season is a critical time for tourism, but it is “clearly being watched carefully”, as is the Sarah Baartman district.

As Ramaphosa noted, one of the reasons South Africa is experiencing a surge in infections is because there is a lack of compliance with the restrictions that are already in place nationally.

“Social gatherings are being held in larger numbers than allowed under the existing Alert Level 1 restrictions. Large funerals are being held indoors with poor ventilation,” Mavuso highlights. These can be super spreader events that drive major spikes in infections.

“Adherence to existing restrictions is critical if we are going to contain infection rates and avoid tougher restrictions being imposed. This is going to be especially important during the festive season when the temptation will be to relax our vigilance. As the president said, each of us must avoid spreading the virus to our families, especially our elders,” states Mavuso.

Further, because the year has been a very difficult time in fighting Covid-19, she says it would be a “great injustice” to all that effort and the lives that have been lost if South Africa allows the festive season to drive a resurgence.

“There is an end in sight as global vaccine manufacturing ramps up. We must redouble our efforts to comply with the rules and act prudently until we have finally won this war.”


In addition, Mavuso notes that ever since Finance Minister Tito Mboweni first challenged public sector workers over a wage freeze in his 2019 Medium-Term Budget Policy speech, it been evident that it was not going to be an easy task to reach an agreement with workers.

“However, it’s incredibly important for the country’s prospects for government to cut its expenditure and prevent debt from exceeding gross domestic product.”

Going forward, and with the end of this year in sight, she says South Africa is going to have to focus on the fractured economy. “If we are to come out of this crisis, we have to get things right – and it starts with implementing the measures in the President’s economic recovery plan.”


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