The Eastern Cape has seen a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks. The declaration of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro as a hotspot by President Cyril Ramaphosa was prompted by rising numbers of infections and communities that reportedly ignored the restrictions.
Currently, the metro has more than 4 000 active cases and a death toll of over 1 900.
But Democratic Alliance councillor who was elected as the Metro’s Mayor on Friday, Nqaba Bhanga, believes that lack of leadership in the metro may have contributed to the rapid spread of COVID-19.
“We have to deal with the scourge of COVID-19, we are a hotspot. It starts with leadership. We have to mobilise and take our people as partners to make sure we put strategies in place. We are going to see enforcement in the city. You will see roadblocks everywhere making sure that people are doing as expected, you will see the visibility of metro police enforcing those regulations.”
Before Bhanga’s election, the metro had been without a mayor for almost a year following the ousting of the late Mongameli Bobani. Some residents believe that this lack of leadership may be behind the resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
But others have blamed the residents. “It’s something that we can never pin into the unavailability of leadership because administratively things were happening. It all goes back to what is it that we tell our children at our homes, what do we advise our brothers and sisters as far as COVID- 19 is concerned.”
It is, however, unclear whether Bhanga will be sworn in as the NMB mayor as the provincial Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has declared the election null and void.
BREAKING:Nqaba Bhanga’s election as new mayor of Nelson Mandela Metro has been delcared as unlawful,null and void.Below is a correspondence by MEC of Cogta Xolile Nqatha stating this. #sabcnews pic.twitter.com/FBETEaEwvE
— Lerato Fekisi (@LThipa) December 8, 2020
Health Minister’s visit
Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, was in the Mandela Bay for two days last month to look at resources and visit hotspots around Port Elizabeth. He visited one testing centre at Motherwell Mall to check on people’s behaviour as well as to encourage them to follow standing protocols.
“The Nelson Mandela Bay has continued to be clustered. Our concern is that something needs to be done in finding ways to reduce numbers. We have seen numbers increase in NMB (Nelson Mandela Bay) and EC (Eastern Cape), the number of hospitalised people, and those who have lost their lives.” He added that the number of infections is alarming.
Minister Mkhize engages with stakeholders regarding coronavirus cases in the Nelson Mandela Metro:
The tourism sector is slowly starting to recover after being hit the hardest by the lockdown. Tourism is one of the biggest economic drivers in the metro. Despite the resurgence of COVID-19, Tourism MEC Mlungisi Mvoko says shutting the sector down again would have a negative implication.
“Tourism was hit very hard by the lockdown and we cannot afford to close it at this stage at time, because some businesses have already shut down, so if you can close it right now some would never come back. All I’m saying is I encourage people to explore and visit places but please keep to the lockdown regulations.”
West of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro are the towns of Jeffrey’s Bay and Humansdorp in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality – another hot spot which saw a rise in infection numbers. Imposing a curfew from 10 p.m to 4 a.m across the metro is another attempt to curb infections but as the president said that it is up to every individual to prevent the spread of the virus. Below are the coronavirus stats in SA:
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