By MZUKISI MPAHLWA
I am worried about the rapid rise in the number of Covid-19 cases over the past month. In September we had 17 active cases, and at the end of October, the number rose to 114 infected in total with the number of active cases being 71. We are at the beginning of November and we now have 106 active cases.
Members of the Makana Joint Operating Committee heard on Tuesday afternoon how residents within Makana are not adhering to Covid-19 regulations and safety measures.
Makana Municipality has had 58 deaths since the start of lockdown because of Covid-19.
One JOC member said, “We are experiencing Covid-19 pandemic fatigue.”
The Makana JOC calls for residents of this local municipality to fight through this pandemic fatigue and to remain vigilant and play their part in stopping the spread of the virus.
We have heard and seen over the last month, many people within our towns and residential areas ignoring the Covid-19 protocols of wearing a face mask, washing hands, and maintaining their social distance. It is imperative that we observe these protocols and safety measures. We simply cannot afford to have a surge of cases at this point in time.
We have also noticed that Rhodes University, our municipality, and several banks and shops in Makhanda have had a surge of positive Covid-19 cases. We urge all members of our society to work together, to respect one another, and to observe these safety measures whenever we are out in the public.
During lockdown level five to two, I reiterated that Covid-19 does not discriminate, it does not choose which person to infect, it does not matter who you are, we are all at risk. I also said that we need to learn to co-exist with the virus.
The Makana JOC also notes with concern several other issues that need urgent attention.
We respect everyone’s right to protest and march, but we also want to caution residents that protesting and marching should be done with Covid-19 in mind. Maintaining social distance and wearing of masks in public spaces is therefore important.
We also noticed that the numbers at funerals have increased as per lockdown level one and we do find that even these rules are being broken. We urge residents to observe social distancing practices at funerals.
Another area of concern has been the huge numbers of people congregating at taverns, pubs, bars, and clubs in our municipal area. We have seen many patrons at these places not adhering to Covid-19 safety protocols. We urge all owners of taverns, pubs, bars, and clubs to strictly adhere to the Covid-19 safety measures.
The Makana JOC wants to acknowledge the faith community within our municipal area for strictly observing all Covid-19 protocols.
As a municipality, we have set certain criteria in place to deal with the upcoming December circumcision season. Together with our social partners, especially the Department of Health, we have begun to make provisions for the initiates in our area. All initiates will be screened and tested two weeks before their initiation rite takes place. We have put systems in place in case of Covid-19 outbreaks or any other medical-related problems.
Of course, all of this is subject to national government approving Cogta Eastern Cape’s plans to proceed with ulwaluko.
The Makana JOC notes with deep concern that the common practice of illegal dumping and littering is getting out of hand. It was noted in this week’s meeting that the municipality simply cannot cope with the amount of waste being generated. We need a new landfill complex.
We also fear that a dirty municipal area is not good for anyone’s health. The municipality is under capacitated in this area. We want to urge all residents to help keep the areas around their house and the streets wherein they live clean, as it will assist the municipality.
We are also hoping that the Ward based rapid response teams will become fully operational so that they can assist us in spreading the word around the dangers of Covid-19, to assist us with the upcoming circumcision season, and to help eradicate illegal dumping.
The Makana JOC also would like to wish all learners, especially those writing matric exams, a good exam period. We acknowledge that this year has been tough and we want to commend every learner who has come thus far. We also want to acknowledge all the educators and family members who have put the education of learners above everything else.
As the Makana JOC we lastly want to thank all residents, civil society organisations, local businesses, local government, and the education sector for helping us become a better municipality that can address the concerns and many issues of our people.
And finally, some good news, we have been selected to be a part of 56 other local governments across the globe in the Global Partnership to Promote Open Government. As a municipality, we want to acknowledge the help of the Makhanda Circle of Unity for putting our bid together. The Open Government Partnership is premised on the concept that an open government is more accessible, more responsive, and more accountable to citizens and that improving the relationship between people and their government has long-term, exponential benefits for everyone (opengovpartnership.org)
- Mzukisi Mpahlwa is Makana Municipality’s Executive Mayor and chairs the Makana Covid Joint Operations Committee.