South Africa

News24.com | Covid-19: Mkhize's talk of a Western Cape spike is reckless, says Winde

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has said it was reckless of Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to say the province had seen a 42% increase in new Covid-19 cases.

He added the province had worked "damn hard" to manage the pandemic. 

"Well quite frankly, the minister was reckless," said Winde on Friday. 

Mkhize is being treated for Covid-19, which the premier also contracted earlier in the pandemic.

In replies to his special speech in the legislature on Thursday, Winde added the province had been lauded for its strategy to contain the pandemic, had brought numbers down, and its hotspot strategy had been emulated in other provinces. 

He said Mkhize's information was inaccurate because, according to the province's information, it was a 13% increase.

Winde added this was not to be taken lightly, and urged continued compliance with hygiene protocols and social distancing.

"I don't know where he cooked that up."

This as the province is lobbying for the scrapping of the travel "red list" ahead of its usually busy holiday season. 

On the list, which was released on 19 October, are some of the Western Cape's largest source markets for tourism such as Germany and the UK. 

On Thursday, Winde said the province had shown courage in dealing with the pandemic, and had set up facilities quickly, even though it had not been paid back by the national government as expected. 

He warned of looming budget cuts in provinces in light of the lockdown economic slump as the country faces a possible debt crisis. 

Winde urged the national government to carefully consider whether SAA should be bailed out, or whether the money would be better spent elsewhere to alleviate poverty and joblessness caused by the lockdown.

He warned the Western Cape government might be forced to borrow money for the first time, given looming budget cuts.

READ: 'We don't need chicken or beef in the sky' - Winde appeals to Ramaphosa, Mboweni over SAA R10bn bailout

On Friday, opposition parties popped Winde's Thursday bubble when he spoke of the Covid-19 crisis as a "moonshot" moment when the seemingly impossible was done to flatten the coronavirus curve. 

Opposition MPLs accused him of ignoring the poor, saying he was trying to protect the economy instead of the people.

Winde was accused of using the Covid-19 hotspot strategy to force poor people to live in cramped conditions to create "herd immunity". 

He was also accused of undermining the national government by trying to get the ban on alcohol and cigarette sales lifted, and questioned why millions were spent on preparing facilities used for a short period, and renting beds from private hospitals.

They also questioned the way the homeless were treated at the Strandfontein emergency shelter, and why there was an apparent ignoring of crime safety concerns in the province.

However, DA MPLs defended him and lampooned the opposition, notably the ANC.

In response to a comment from FF Plus MPL Peter Marais, Winde said he supported a federal government system, but not independence as espoused by the Cape Party.

He added where provinces had shown they could manage their own budgets properly, they should be given more autonomy, particularly with regard to managing the rail network and policing.

Winde's retort to opposition MPLs was that they had not listened to his speech with its plans for poverty alleviation and economic growth.

He said in spite of his requests for suggestions on how to improve the province, few were forthcoming from the opposition.

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