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Western Cape: This is how the province is tackling the Coronavirus crisis


Ricardo Mackenzie is DA Western Cape Spokesperson on the Premier and Constitutional Matters.

The Covid-19 pandemic poses a threat not only to health, but also our livelihoods, freedoms, and future security. It is an all-encompassing crisis, the likes of which we have not witnessed before.

Keeping residents consistently updated with reliable, accurate, and helpful information based on accurate data must be a core priority for any responsible government when facing a significant challenge such as this. 

The Western Cape government, led by the premier, embarked on a massive communications campaign rolled out long before the first fatality was recorded. Covering radio, TV, print, online, and social media, the premier has kept residents up to date on all information necessary for our battle to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Awareness strategies and programmes have supported all stakeholders, whether in business, public, or NGO sectors.

The department of the premier has coordinated these communication efforts and overseen leadership of the various provincial government departments, as we recognise the whole-of-society approach is now more important than ever in tackling our biggest shared challenge to date.


Over 25,000 Covid-19 tests have been conducted to date, with ongoing screening and testing continuously taking place in prioritised communities based on the most reliable data and information. 

Seven triage and testing sites have been completed, including those in Khayelitsha, Tygerberg, Paarl, and Mitchell’s Plain. Two further sites are under construction at False Bay and Red Cross.

The department provides scenarios and planning for the ongoing fight to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Health workers are equipped with all necessary tools and protection in providing treatment and support to patients.

R44-million worth of PPE stock is available, with a further R185-million on back order. This includes masks and aprons for community health workers.

Over 1,000 volunteers have responded to the call for healthcare professionals to support our efforts during this pandemic. 

 Social Development (DSD) 

Spending at least an additional R35-million from the province’s own funds, the department continues to roll out efforts aimed at providing a safety net for our most vulnerable communities. Hard lockdown, including most of the higher stages in the phasing out, limit employment opportunities and severely impact the work of hundreds of thousands of South Africans. This includes ‘temp’ workers, domestic workers, and freelancers.

Every single day during hard lockdown, 12,084 of the most vulnerable are provided with food. 

Over 6,500 individuals receive shelter and support, including psychosocial assistance, at the department’s 27 shelters, all of which are at full bed capacity. Foreseeing the challenges of lockdown, an additional shelter was promptly set up in Somerset West to accommodate 120 family members.

Staying home during lockdown is not safe for everyone. Across South Africa, we have witnessed an increase in gender-based violence (GBV), which is why the Western Cape government continues to fund 20 shelters for GBV survivors at a cost of R28-million. Three daily meals are offered, along with the services of social workers and housemothers.

At our community based feeding schemes, at least 6,700 beneficiaries are provided with hot meals every day.

To meet some of the most immediate needs, R20-million is set to be spent on distributing 50,000 food parcels which meet the criteria to identify the most vulnerable. Each parcel covers all meals for a family of four for an entire month.

R18-million has been reprioritised to allow the Department of Education to provide one cooked meal per learner, of which there are 485,000 learners at 1,000 schools. 

 We remain true to our stance against politicisation of food parcels, and believe in a process-oriented structure to ensure food relief is provided adequately and fairly. Food is therefore provided on the most relevant Covid-19 criteria following assessment by DSD workers, with the relief being prepared and distributed by accredited NGOs.

The department’s call centre has been bolstered with additional agents to manage the influx of calls. Without delay, the centre’s staff of initially 10 agents grew to 55 agents by the middle of this month. The target of 100 is well within sight.

 Economic Development and Tourism

In partnership with Wesgro and the City of Cape Town, the Covid-19 Business Support site has been developed, allowing businesses to get support and advice on the lockdown regulations, and how to stay safe and resilient during this crisis. Over 40,000 visitors have accessed the site, making use of the helpful FAQs and contact details.

The business support tool which assists businesses to navigate the funding landscape has been utilised by over 7,000 users, including over 1,500 from other provinces.

The JUMP support app maps out business and organisations, providing a business health check, opportunities for growth, marketing tools, and networking opportunities.

 The department has been hard at work, consistently working with national government for support of businesses, jobs, and the economy in the Western Cape. 

Community Safety

The Western Cape Safety Plan is a joint initiative between the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town. The 500 recently appointed law enforcement officers are hard at work during lockdown supporting the work of SAPS and its Anti-Gang Unit. A rapid response unit has also been set up, especially to meet short-term needs during the ongoing crisis.

For example, between just 6-12 April, 13 individuals were arrested for possession/dealing narcotics and possession of liquor, contravening the Disaster Management Act. Seven roadblocks were facilitated, 719 vehicles searched, and 291 Covid-19 related complaints managed.

The department has redirected some of its funds to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for SAPS. Although this does not form part of the department’s mandate, it is a clear demonstration of the Western Cape’s dedication to effective oversight and the safety of all. 

The fight against Covid-19 is a shared duty, requiring extensive collaboration between all levels of government.  


Food security, the future of farmers, and the livelihoods and safety of farm workers are of paramount concern. The department is distributing 100,000 cloth masks for agricultural workers and 450 litres of hand sanitiser has been provided to-date.

Constant communication with stakeholders allows the department to keep all role-players up to speed on the latest regulations and lobby for their interests at a national level. Farmers are provided the information they need to continue to keep food supply both safe and secure.


The safe transport of our essential service workers continues through the department’s support and interventions. This has involved engagements with all stakeholders, including the minibus taxi industry, Golden Arrow, Go George, and the City of Cape Town.

At this time, social distancing protocols have to be strictly adhered to in keeping commuters safe, from A to B. The sanitisation of vehicles and education of passengers is being provided, along with the provision of PPEs for provincial traffic law enforcement officials.

Traffic law enforcement is in full support of lockdown regulations, ensuring compliance at every step. This includes closing secondary roads, if necessary, and using the department’s available construction vehicles for the transportation of important hygiene materials.


With lockdown, learning does not need to stop. Bringing together world-class resources, the department fast-tracked Quality Learning @ Home in support of teachers, learners, and parents. This includes free resources via online, TV, and radio.

Guidelines and lesson plans are offered, tailored to each learner’s specific grade so that the next generation remains active and involved in their learning experience. At least 8,000 resources are free, across grades and subjects.

Cultural Affairs and Sport

The department takes proactive steps to support the translation and interpretation of Covid-19 information. This is critical in making sure that all important public information is provided in languages that everyone understands and can share.

The YearBeyond programme for young people has been optimised to include telephonic check-ins and virtual programmes that support stress relief during the crisis.


There is no guide book or rules which tell us how to manage this crisis. All over the world, we are learning together every day on how to best combat and fight the spread of Covid-19. Best practice is constantly a work in progress. Mistakes will be made and lessons learned.

However, we can assure our residents that every step is taken to make the best possible decisions based on the most reliable data on hand. The premier and his government have undertaken to keep all residents informed and updated in the most comprehensive manner possible. Information, data, and timeous interventions are key.

So, too, is the work of oversight by the provincial parliament, which meets on a regular basis to scrutinise the work of the Western Cape government. We are the first – and only – legislature to meet via digital means with public availability in the country. This is because we take our constitutional duty seriously, tracking and quality assuring all measures taken by our government.

It is through reliable data, tough decision making, oversight, and planning that we are able to say that the future for the people of the Western Cape will be a free one. DM

Ricardo Mackenzie is DA Western Cape spokesperson on constitutional matters.




"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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