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COGTA and HRC Set Up Engagement Mechanism

July 16, 2020

Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister, Dlamini-Zuma, have agreed to establish an engagement mechanism.

In a joint statement, the department and the SAHRC indicated that the mechanism will consist of a technical committee that will assist the minister and Commissioners of the SAHRC to engage on and sort out issues at an early stage before they develop into problems.

The SAHRC and minister Dlamini-Zuma recently held a joint meeting to discuss possible areas of collaboration to help in promoting human rights against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The mechanism is designed to deal with issues relating to Covid-19 measures such as regulations and directions and their impact on human rights.

“Both parties hope that this mechanism will assist government efforts to ensure that COVID-19 measures it adopts are consistent with human rights.”

The plan is also for the engagement mechanism to deal with human rights issues in general regarding the work of the department, including “issues of service delivery, especially of water and sanitation, housing and other human rights at the local government level”.

A meeting is on the cards involving local government representatives, other relevant departments such as human settlements; water and sanitation; health and environment, forestry and fisheries and the Commission to discuss how to enhance the effectiveness of municipalities and other local government authorities.

Meanwhile, speaking recently on the amended enhanced Level 3 Covid-19 regulations published in Government Gazette 43521 on 12 July, the minister declared that “as we approach the eye of the COVID storm, we must preserve the capacity of our health care facilities to manage the consequent increase in COVID-19 cases. At the same time, we ought to also maintain economic activity and protect livelihoods whilst ensuring the observance of strict health protocols”.

In terms of provisions that enforce the mandatory wearing of face masks, the minister emphasized that the wearing of masks constitutes one of the most effective systematic means of reducing transmission of Covid-19.

As regards the prohibition on the sale, transportation and dispensing of alcohol, the minister highlighted that the overall number of visits to trauma units in South Africa dropped from 42 700 to approximately 15 000 visits during absolute prohibition.

“Following the lifting of the prohibition on the sale, transportation and dispensing of liquor in Alert Level 3, health facilities have seen a substantial rise in alcohol related trauma injuries and death, resulting in added strain on the capacity of health facilities,” she said.

The minister added that “government thought it prudent to save bed space for COVID cases by limiting the potential hazard of alcohol related trauma cases”.

In conclusion, the minister declared that the fight against the virus requires a society wide effort.

“It requires all of us to make sacrifices, which at face value may seem unreasonable. However, when we make these sacrifices now, we secure our future as a nation,” she said.