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Covid-19: Ramaphosa consults with traditional leaders on lockdown

Covid-19: Ramaphosa consults with traditional leaders on lockdown

President Cyril Ramaphosa will meet with traditional leaders on Saturday to discuss the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic and matters related to the lockdown.

This will be the second consultative meeting with traditional leaders on the national response to the pandemic, with the first one having been led by Deputy President David Mabuza, Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko said. 

At that meeting, Mabuza said traditional leaders would play an important role in disseminating information to rural South Africans on the novel coronavirus and the measures taken by government.

Diko said Ramaphosa had recently held consultative meetings with the National Economic Development and Labour Council, the President’s Coordinating Council, leaders of political parties represented in Parliament, leaders of interfaith communities, and the tourism industry. 

“The engagement with traditional leaders is part of a series of consultations the president has held with leaders across various sectors of society since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, to ensure that the national effort to combat the crisis is inclusive and enjoys the support of all stakeholder groups.”

On Wednesday, the sale of alcohol, physical sittings of Parliament, resumption of domestic travel and opening of churches were some of the issues leaders of opposition parties raised when Ramaphosa met with them.

Opposition leaders sought to sway Ramaphosa on numerous issues they want to be taken into consideration ahead of the country moving to Level 3 of the nationwide lockdown.

READ | Mabuza calls on traditional leaders to help govt during lockdown

The president remained tight-lipped on what the plans were and gave no indication of any concessions to be made under the imminent phase of the lockdown, insiders said.

News24 was reliably told that party leaders in the virtual meeting, which kicked off at 07:00 on Wednesday, were given ample time to share their views on how the country should be navigating the coronavirus pandemic and the related lockdown to curb the spread of infection.

The country has been under lockdown since March, when the government adopted five-alert levels that allow for the staggered reopening of the economy.

Ramaphosa was joined at the meeting by several members of Cabinet, including Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, whose department has been responsible for promulgating the regulations adopted by the government during the crisis.

Some of the suggestions made to the president included increased liquor prices and a sin tax in the hope that many would not flock to outlets or panic buy booze.

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