The Nelson Mandela Foundation applauds the decisive leadership being given to South Africa by President Cyril Ramaphosa in addressing the challenges posed by COVID-19. We support the two-week extension of the lock-down announced by him last night and urge everyone who calls South Africa home to comply with the lock-down regulations.
We agree with the President that it is now becoming very clear that whenever it is that the country ‘gets back to normal’ it will not be business as usual. Our realities will have changed irrevocably and if we are to thrive then a fundamental restructuring of our economy and a reimagining of how society is organised will be necessary. This presents a challenge of the imagination and of our resolve. Already a range of positive energies are emerging in our society as we respond to the immediate crisis. Harnessing them will be critical to success as we begin making for ourselves a better future. A future where we find the unity in diversity, which our Constitution speaks of. A future where respect for the rule of law is deep-rooted, our first responders are valued and enabled to do their jobs effectively, levels of violence are curbed, alcohol abuse and related social ills diminish, and the importance of functional public health and education systems is prioritised.
We welcome the plans to roll out more extensive testing and screening capacity and the new measures to mitigate the devastating impact of the lockdown on those most vulnerable economically. However, it is clear that many of our people fall between the cracks of social support. For example, Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioners who run centres that are unregistered provide an important social service to many communities. In the Foundation’s network of ECD practitioners, 82.3% of ECD centres have been unable to register with government owing to the various barriers to registration which exist – many of which are a result of the socio-economic circumstances in which they live. As a result of the structural barriers related to registration, they now find themselves in the current crises being unable to access relief measures like that offered to small businesses or that being offered to registered ECD centres – even though it is estimated that unregistered ECD centres outnumber that of registered centres. We believe that measures must be accelerated and distributed in terms of financial relief for those who fall outside of the ‘system’. It cannot be that any of people do not belong anywhere in a crisis of this nature.
The immediacy of critical relief is also paramount particularly with regard to food security. We honour everyone who is contributing to the Solidarity Fund, including the President and other senior public representatives who will be contributing a third of their salaries to the Fund. The Foundation is launching a hunger relief fund, known as Each One Feed One (#Each1Feed1), with an initial contribution of R500 000. The model involves providing non-perishable food items to stores for distribution to communities in most need. In the initiative we are in partnership with Imbumba Foundation and Kolisi Foundation and together call on all South Africans to contribute to existing food donation initiatives or donate in cash by visiting the Foundation’s donation platform.
The name of the fund is inspired by the old Congress of South African Students (Cosas) mantra (Each one, teach one) and is adopted in honour of OR Tambo.
In this time of terrible danger and uncertainty, South Africa needs the courage Nelson Mandela and his generation drew on time and again in the past. As President Ramaphosa suggested in his address to the nation, this courage arguably is in our DNA. We can rise to the challenge.
“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” ~ Nelson Mandela, 2005
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