Covid-19

State of the City

Ekurhuleni: Mzwandile Masina delivers address amid confusion over masks

Ekurhuleni: Mzwandile Masina delivers address amid confusion over masks
Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina. (Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Christiaan Kotze)

City of Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina delivered his fourth State of the City Address to an almost deserted council as public viewing was prohibited in light of the spread of Covid-19.

Council members at the Ekurhuleni State of the City Address, which took place on Wednesday, 18 March, could be seen observing the protocol of keeping an arms-length distance while some wore masks. 

It was not long before City of Ekurhuleni Mayor, Mzwandile Masina, started speaking that a heated exchange broke out between council members over the DA’s refusal to wear masks during the address. 

EFF councillor Koketso Mojatau was the first to object to the non-use of masks by other members. “As we entered here, we were given masks, but if you check here, a lot of our colleagues, particularly from the DA side, are not wearing masks. All of us are afraid of this coronavirus. So can we get clarity, maybe they are not affected by it, but we need to be safe,” he said. 

DA councillor Phillip de Lange correctly defended the party’s decision not to wear masks and reminded council members that according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on Covid-19, an individual that is not infected with Covid-19 is not required to wear a mask. 

Members of the public could watch the address on the City’s Twitter and Facebook pages, and through a live broadcast from various television and radio channels. 

According to Masina, the city has since established a Joint Operation Centre that will shortly announce the metro’s intervention measures after the national government declared Covid-19 a State of National Disaster. 

“At the present moment, we have four confirmed cases of the virus in the city and our health authorities are dealing with the matter. At this point, I wish to appeal to the community to work with us as we manage the pandemic,” Masina said. 

Outside of Covid-19, decent housing, healthcare, access to roads and quality services were at the core of Masina’s address. 

Of the 119 informal settlements in the city, Masina said since his term of office began, 38 have been re-blocked and electricity installed. In addition, the city has expanded the programme and anticipates that by the end of June 2020, 22,000 homes will have electricity. 

Masina’s administration is expected to deliver 100,000 houses and 59,000 serviced stands before the end of his five-year term in 2021. To date, only 29,405 houses have been provided alongside 17,944 serviced stands. 

Despite achieving a small fraction, Masina is adamant that the remaining units will be built as per the targets – a statement that made some members of opposition parties giggle. 

“It is our resolve and determination to do our best to realise these targets, nine mega projects are already underway. We have also added another three, namely Brakpan Old Location, Esselen Park and Palmietfontein, which alone will yield a total of more than 18,434 units, taking the total to 216,670 by the end of the current term of office and/or soon thereafter,” he said. 

The metro has 15 mobile clinics spread out across the city and 115 pick-up points for chronic medicines. As part of diversifying healthcare access, Masina said the city introduced 11 Pele Boxes – healthcare facilities use the boxes to load chronic medications for patients, who in turn collect them without having to stand in long queues. 

“Among clinics that already have operational facilities in the city are Germiston, Winnie Mandela, Phola Park, Phillip Moyo and Daveyton Main Clinic. We are in the process of launching an additional five Pele Box facilities in J Dumane, eSangweni, eThafeni and Tsakane. There are also plans to extend them to malls across the city,” he said. 

The mayor also provided an update on the announcement made by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address that the metro would be getting its own university. 

The OR Tambo University of Science and Technology will operate on a “Swiss-Dual Apprenticeship”, Masina said. Students at the university will receive both theoretical and work-based training. 

“If this proposal is accepted by the National Department of Higher Education, it will result in new ways of teaching where a student gets educated and graduates with a 4-year degree coupled with 4 years’ work experience,” he added.

The city has completed the proposal, feasibility study and business plans, which the mayor said will be handed down to the department of higher education and training. The university will be located between the Germiston-Boksburg area after the metro secured a 43-hectare piece of land, donated to them by an unnamed private developer. DM

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"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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