Comunidados de Imprensa

Comunidados de Imprensa

FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT - 29 JUNE 2020

 

Dear Fellow South African,

The number of deaths from coronavirus recently passed the 2,000 mark. Among those who have lost their lives are health care workers, consummate professionals who cared for the ill, and were a support and comfort to those in hospital isolated from their families.

That the men and women carrying out this most noble and sacred of duties are themselves falling ill and dying is a devastating blow.

They are on the frontline of fighting this pandemic. They are working under great pressure and must carry the psychological strain of knowing they are at risk of contracting the virus. They are the true heroes and heroines of our battle against coronavirus.

We salute these brave South Africans who leave their homes, families and loved ones to report without fail for duty every day in clinics, hospitals and other health facilities. There they provide medical care, administrative support and other services like cleaning and catering.
 
Just as they perform what is their professional duty, we too have a duty to them and to their families. Their health and their safety must be paramount.

We honour them and uphold them as the men and women who have demonstrated they are prepared to risk their lives so that we may live.

For them to do their Herculean work they need our support as well as protection through the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE).

With the support of the Solidarity Fund and donations from many individual South Africans, businesses, foundations and other governments, we have been able to procure personal protective equipment for these brave frontline workers. Where there have been shortages of PPE our hospitals are urgently attending to ensuring that they are available.

We know that access to PPE is not the only challenge our health care workers face. Across the country clinics and hospitals are facing staff shortages. This problem is being attended to.
 
To support the work that our frontline workers are performing around the country we are deploying Ministers and Deputy Ministers to each of the districts in the country to get a line of sight of specific challenges in these districts and to work with provincial health authorities.

We need to work together to safeguard the health of not just our frontline workers but the entire workforce.

There has already been sterling work done by unions in educating members around infection control and prevention and hygiene. They are also supporting the work of the Department of Employment and Labour in conducting workplace inspections to ensure health and safety protocols are in place for returning workers. Many of our trade unions are also providing coronavirus information to their members and employers are running awareness campaigns.
 
One of the challenges that has emerged in our country is the stigmatisation of people who have proven positive with coronavirus. As a society, we have a collective responsibility to stamp out the stigmatisation of people infected with the coronavirus. There have been disturbing reports of individuals being ostracised from their communities and of communities protesting against coronavirus patients being admitted to local hospitals and clinics. This must stop.

Just as we came together to promote acceptance of people living with HIV and stood firm against victimisation, we must show understanding, tolerance, kindness, empathy and compassion for those who are infected with this virus and for their families.

It is said that this stigmatisation is driven by fear of contracting the disease and lack of understanding. The best way to overcome our instinctive fear of illness and contagion is to observe the hygiene protocols that are in place. The fear of infection is well-founded and real. At the same time, we know what we have to do to protect ourselves and others.

We know what causes the virus and what we can do to protect ourselves from becoming infected. We know we have to maintain social distancing, to self-isolate if we have come into contact with those infected and to present to a hospital if we have symptoms.

We must continue to be guided by facts and not rumours.

The time when anyone could say they do not know anyone who is infected or affected by coronavirus has long passed. Now, more than ever, our friends, families, colleagues and neighbours need our empathy and support.

In the days, weeks and months that lie ahead, we will at times find ourselves despondent and fearful as we see the numbers of people infected and dying continue to rise. It may be that things have gotten worse, but we are certain that they will get better. Our scientists and medical advisers told us that the rate of infections will go up as we move towards our peak. But it will certainly come down.

We pay tribute to the health care workers who lost their lives caring for the sick. In their memory, let us keep ourselves and our fellow citizens safe by playing our part.

We shall overcome this virus and rebuild our society. We have seen darker times and we have prevailed.

Let us spare neither strength nor courage as we work together to save lives.

With best wishes,

FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT - 22 JUNE 2020

Dear Fellow South African,

More than 100 days after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in South Africa and after two months of a nation-wide lockdown, our economy is in the throes of the anticipated fallout from this global crisis. The predictions of businesses shutting down and jobs being lost are materialising.
 
Last week a number of companies announced plans to retrench staff. From aviation to construction, from entertainment and leisure to hospitality, companies have indicated their intention to retrench staff because of heavy losses incurred over the past three months. In other cases, businesses are closing permanently. Small businesses whose turnover has been wiped out will be even harder hit.

As a country, we have all been keenly aware of the consequences of shutting down economic activity during the lockdown that was absolutely critical to save the lives of our people.
 
South Africa is not alone. In Italy, the UK, the US, Germany, India, China and nearly every country that had imposed some form of lockdown, jobs have been lost or hours of workers reduced. It is being spoken of as a ‘job loss tsunami’.

In April the International Labour Organisation forecast there would be around 305 million job losses worldwide. The situation of workers in the informal economy is even worse, with an estimated 1.6 billion workers in danger of losing their livelihoods.

For a country such as ours, which was already facing an unemployment crisis and weak economic growth, difficult decisions and difficult days lie ahead. We would urge that the difficult decisions to be taken are taken with care and with due regard to balancing the sustainability of companies and the livelihoods of workers. It is important that whatever is done is underpinned by ensuring a just transition to all concerned.

The measures we put in place to protect local businesses during the lockdown in the form of loans, tax relief, debt restructuring, extended credit lines and retail rental exemptions are continuing to provide vital support. Temporary social assistance to poor households is gathering pace and providing vital relief. However, these measures can only go so far.
 
This week the Minister of Finance will table a revised national budget in Parliament. Revenue has plummeted and difficult decisions will be made in the coming weeks and months as we seek to reprioritise our programmes, manage public spending and scale back on projects where necessary.

The economic hardship that has been forced on a number of companies in the private sector will be forced on a number of entities in the public sector as well. The government, business, labour and civil society will have to deepen their collaboration as never before in driving the national recovery effort.

As more economic activity resumes, struggling businesses will be ‘playing catch-up’ to recoup lost productivity and revenue for some time to come. As much as we seek to protect current jobs, we also need to create new ones, and attract new, greater levels of investment. It is imperative that we open avenues for self-employment and entrepreneurship, especially for young people.

In the past two years the business community has made commitments to invest in various businesses in our country. It is our hope that our business community and international investors will honour the investment commitments made in a number of forums such as the South Africa Investment Conference.

Coronavirus has resulted in companies around the world re-evaluating their investment and expansion plans, and we must anticipate that some of these commitments may be scaled back and even cancelled. South Africa still has great investment opportunities and assets to invest in.

 We remain optimistic that as we gradually return to normalcy, and as we forge ahead with the economic reform measures embarked upon earlier this year, that the growing investment levels we were seeing before coronavirus hit will slowly but surely return.

The announcement last week by Amazon that it is on a drive to hire up to 3,000 South Africans for a variety of positions is a welcome signal, as is the announcement that a local energy storage company Metair has secured a number of contracts from the Ford Motor Company, and that the pan-African cloud and data solutions entity Africa Data Centres has acquired a hi-tech data centre in Johannesburg.

Tomorrow the inaugural Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium of South Africa will take place. A number of catalytic infrastructure projects in water, transportation, energy, digital infrastructure, human settlements and agriculture will be showcased. Project sponsorship has been sought from the private sector, multilateral development banks, development finance institutions, asset managers and commercial banks.

Through the delivery of sustainable and fit-for-purpose infrastructure we are able to meet our developmental aspirations and revive economic activity, while also creating jobs at scale at a time when they are needed most.

This infrastructure investment forms an integral part of our recovery effort. This will be bolstered by the reduction of interest rates by the South African Reserve Bank, support extended to businesses during the pandemic and regulatory relief for the financial sector, among others.

The job creation efforts we began in early 2020, such as the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention, and the existing ones such as the Expanded Public Works Programme and Community Works Programme, will be scaled up. The job-creation initiatives and programmes the private sector began before coronavirus must resume, and new ones should be designed and implemented.

There are tough times ahead. There are no quick-fixes and we have to be realistic about our prospects, especially about the time it will take for our economy to recover. Even the advanced economies will contract substantially because of COVID-19 and it will take a long time for economic output to return to pre-pandemic levels.

At the same time we remain optimistic.

We will keep trying, because we understand that despite the hardship it has caused, the lockdown was necessary and has saved lives. No price can be put on human life.

Let us put shoulder to the wheel and turn this adversity into opportunity. Let us reimagine and repurpose our economy and put it firmly on a solid and sustainable path.

With best wishes,

FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT - 15 JUNE 2020

Below please find the weekly Newsletter from the President of South Africa, with a message linked to Youth Day on 16 June 2020 and Youth Month this June.   

 

 

Dear Fellow South African,

The words of Frantz Fanon that ‘each generation must discover its mission’ come to mind every time I have an opportunity to speak with young South Africans.

 No matter where they live and no matter what they do, they each have a burning desire to change the world.

While they certainly want to improve their own lives, they also want to achieve a better society and a better world. They see themselves as agents for fundamental transformation.

Throughout history young people have been a driving force for change. In just the last few decades, young people have waged numerous struggles against injustice, from the 1968 student uprising in Paris, to the anti-war movement in the United States in the 1960s, to the anti-colonial struggle in many African and Asian countries, to the fight against apartheid, to the Arab Spring.

Most recently, young people have been at the forefront of the #BlackLivesMatter movement that has gained global support in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in the United States.

Over the past week, activists around the world have also been demanding the removal of symbols that glorify the barbarity and violence of the slave trade and colonialism.

At an Oxford University demonstration last week a protestor carried a placard with the words ‘Rhodes must Fall’, the rallying cry of students in our own country five years ago.

Young people across the world have found common cause. They are tearing down of statues and symbols of racism, demanding the decolonisation of educational curricula, and calling for institutions to address racism and social exclusion.

And so, as we pay tribute to the generation of 1976 on this Youth Day, we also salute the youth of post-apartheid South Africa, the worthy inheritors of this noble legacy.

The mission of 1976 generation was to dismantle bantu education; that of today’s youth is to take forward the project of national reconciliation and transformation.

In time to come it will be said that this year, 2020, marked the start of a new epoch in human history.

Not only has coronavirus had a momentous impact on people’s lives and livelihoods, it has also shaken up the global social order.

The manner in which the pandemic has taken hold has been a reminder of the interconnectedness of the human race and of the deep inequalities that exist between countries and within countries.

The pandemic presents an opportunity to ‘reset’ a world that is characterised by crass materialism, selfishness and self-absorption not just on the part of individuals but whole societies.

Young people are telling us that the essential values of integrity, compassion and solidarity must be the hallmarks of the new society that will emerge, and that they are determined to be the champions of this new, better world.

In the discussions I have had with young people during this Youth Month, I have said that we should never underestimate the power of an idea, because ideas can and have changed the world. Ideas have spurred human progress and they are what will enable us to chart a new path in the post-coronavirus era.

These young people have turned their ideas into action. They have not let a lack of resources hinder them. They have carved a niche for themselves in a number of sectors from high-tech to environmental sustainability.

They are determined to succeed on their own merits, to not depend on handouts, and once they have ‘made it’ to help their peers.

Through programmes like the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative, the National Youth Service and many more we want to support this country’s young people to see their ideas through from incubation to opening the doors of their businesses.

Youth unemployment is the greatest challenge we face and the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated an already dire situation.

Now more than ever we will look to the innovative and pioneering spirit of our youth to come up with solutions to the unemployment crisis that benefit them, their communities and society.

At the same time, I challenge our country’s youth to craft and design programmes that will enable us to meet our developmental goals.

In 1961, revolutionary Cuba sent legions of young student volunteers into the mountains and villages to construct schools, teach literacy and train new educators. It is still held up as one of the most successful literacy campaigns in modern history.

Our young people must develop social upliftment initiatives and they must lead them.

Just as they took up the struggle for equality in higher education, the considerable energies of our youth must also be brought to bear to fight for equitable access to health care, for the transformation of land ownership and, most importantly, for gender justice.

Like all South Africans, I have been deeply disturbed by a surge over the last few days in the murder of young women at the hands of men. These are shocking acts of inhumanity that have no place in our society.

Youth-led civic activism, awareness raising and peer counselling are vital tools in our efforts to eradicate gender-based violence from society. At the same time, we must strengthen our justice system, ensuring that perpetrators are brought to book, bail and parole conditions are tightened and that those sentenced to life spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

While this needs society-wide action, I call on young men in particular to take up the struggle against gender-based violence. Unless we end the war that is being waged against South African women, the dream of a new society will remain elusive.

Those of us who were part of student movements during the apartheid era are often asked what we think of the young people of today. There is a temptation to retreat into nostalgia about ‘the glory days’ of student politics and youth struggle, never to be replicated.

But just as the youth of yesteryear defined their mission, today’s youth have defined theirs.

South African youth of 2020 more than meet the high standard set by their predecessors. They are optimistic, resilient and courageous, often in the face of the harshest of circumstances.

They are a source of inspiration and hope. Through their actions, they are building a world that is more just, equal, sustainable and at peace.

I wish all the young people of South Africa a meaningful and inspiring Youth Day.

With best wishes,

FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT - 8 JUNE 2020

Dear Fellow South African,

Most people will have noticed that the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa has been rising fast. More than a half of all cases since the start of the outbreak were recorded in the last two weeks.

During the course of this coming week, we can expect that the total number of cases will pass the 50,000 mark. Sadly, we are also likely to record the 1,000th death from this devastating disease.

Like many South Africans, I too have been worried as I watch these figures keep rising. While these numbers are broadly in line with what the various models had projected, there is a big difference between looking at a graph on a piece of paper and seeing real people becoming infected, some getting ill and some dying.

We can draw some comfort from the knowledge that the nation-wide lockdown  in achieving the objective we had of delaying the spread of the virus and that it gave us time to prepare our health facilities and interventions for the expected spike in infections.

The lockdown was not only necessary but it has also given us all time to adjust to living with the virus. Various surveys show that South Africans have come to know a lot about the virus and are taking the necessary precautions to prevent its spread. I have been pleased to realise that a high percentage of South Africans wash their hands regularly, avoid contact with other people and wear face masks whenever they go out in public. I should however say that social distancing in public places is still a major challenge for us. We need to focus our attention on ensuring that we adhere to social distancing practices because it is through close contact between people that the virus will be spread.

It is pleasing to realise that businesses, government departments, schools and other institutions have used this time to get themselves ready for a gradual return to more-or-less normal activity. They have been putting stringent health protocols in place, thoroughly cleaning and sanitising their premises and are ensuring that people are regularly screened for COVID-19 symptoms. This is all necessary to ensure that we save lives and protect livelihoods.
 
Last Friday, I spent the day in Cape Town to get a better sense of the work that is being done to manage the disease there. The Western Cape is the epicentre of coronavirus infections in South Africa, with around two-thirds of all confirmed cases.

I was impressed by the preparations the Western Cape is making to contain infections and to ensure that there are enough beds, staff and medical supplies to accommodate the rapidly increasing number of people needing hospitalisation. They are increasing the number of beds by setting up field hospitals, including at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
 
Yet, even with the preparations they have made, they will need more bed capacity as the disease reaches its peak. They need help from outside the province, including additional funding and health personnel.

This provides the clearest evidence yet that we are correct to treat coronavirus as a national disaster. We must mobilise and deploy all the necessary resources we have in the country. We need an integrated strategy that brings together the national, provincial and local spheres of government.

After the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape is the province with the fastest-growing proportion of people infected. And we know that some of the infections in the province were the result of people travelling from the Western Cape. What this tells us is that no part of the country is an island and that all South Africans, no matter where they live, need to remain vigilant and prepared. It is for this reason also that people are not permitted to travel between provinces while the country is at alert level 3, except under specific circumstances and with the necessary permits.

As we watch the number of infections rise further – probably far faster than most of us imagined – we should be concerned, but not alarmed. That is because we have the ability, as individuals, communities and as a country, to limit the impact of the disease on our people.
 
As we have shown, we can slow the spread of the disease, and we should continue to take all measures possible to continue to flatten the infection curve. Most importantly, we must be prepared to reduce the number of deaths by implementing the necessary health measures.
 
Working with our social partners, we in government are working hard to prepare for the increase of infections. We have been buying personal protection equipment from across the world and supporting local companies to produce them here. We have been improving the infrastructure in hospitals and setting up temporary hospitals and finding more beds for COVID-19 patients. We have deployed tens of thousands of community health workers to detect cases in areas where people live. We are intensifying the programme of screening, testing, contact tracing and, where necessary, isolation.

Although we have made progress, we still need to do much more in the coming weeks to meet the expected demand.

You can also do much to prepare as individuals and families. Already many have made the effort to learn as much as they can about the disease, how to identify the symptoms and how to avoid getting infected or infecting others. Many people have thought about how they can go to school or work safely, and how they can change their shopping behaviour or how they worship to minimise the risk of infection.

Each household should look at how they can protect elderly people and those with underlying conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, TB or HIV. Do plan for the possibility that someone in the family may become infected and whether you will be able to isolate them from family members until they are better. If not, find out where the closest government quarantine site is. You should also plan ahead for what to do if someone gets sick.
 
Over the coming weeks, as we watch the coronavirus infections continue to rise, we must remember that we are not helpless.

And we should remember one simple, but fundamental, message: Don’t be alarmed. Be prepared.
 
With best wishes,

NEW REPATRIATION FLIGHT : FRANKFURT TO ORTIA (AVAILABLE TO SANS STRANDED IN PORTUGAL) - 12 JUNE 2020

The South African Government in collaboration with South African Airways has been making arrangements for the safe return to South Africa of destitute South Africans, which up to date has involved over 7000.  DIRCO has now informed that there is another approved SAA flight SA 2961,  scheduled to depart Frankfurt International Airport on the 12 of June 2020 at 14h00 to land at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) the following morning at 05h30, which will be followed by a  compulsory government facilitated quarantine of up to 2 weeks. Seats will be booked on a first come first serve basis with payment to SAA. Only South African Citizens cleared by DHA will be allowed to board, ie after having registered with the local SA Embassy and approved by DHA. Anyone who has tested positive for COVID 19 is not allowed to board the flight.  The cost of the one-way ticket from Frankfurt to Johannesburg in economy class is R17 000.00 (EUR892.00) or R37 000.00(EUR1940) in Business class.  SA Nationals with existing SAA tickets for this route will have to pay any difference in cost.

 

NB: To be registered with the Embassy for the flight (first step) – if not done yet - and to receive more specific information (re payment details to SAA etc) please contact the SAE, Ms Marline Ngwira on Este endereço de email está protegido contra piratas. Necessita ativar o JavaScript para o visualizar.; or contact 21-3192200/ 2204 / 2207 during working hours (at present only from 08.30 – 13.30 from Mondays – to Fridays) or after hours on 964 151989.

    

Embassy Management

 

To reach the latest Repatriation Newsletter click here (left column of the DIRCO homepage).