President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Friday chair a virtual consultative meeting with the leaders of South Africa’s neighbouring countries to discuss responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, his office said.
Ramaphosa’s government enforced a nationwide lockdown from March 27- aimed at containing the coronavirus – which has grounded most business activity in Africa’s most industrialized country. Under the lockdown, all activity save for essential services was grounded and South Africa’s borders closed except for the movement of cargo. A slight easing of lockdown regulations from May 1 has allowed some companies to resume limited operations.
South Africa’s neighbours have adopted more or less similar restrictions.
In a statement on Friday, the Presidency said the virtual meeting was aimed at allowing southern African countries to share views on coordinated responses to curb the spread of Covid-19, with more than 3.9 million people now infected worldwide — according to real-time data tracker Worldometer — after the coronavirus was first reported in China last December.
“Amongst other issues on the agenda will be consular and immigration matters, the economic impact of the Covid-19 on countries as well as financial support and international pledges,” the Presidency said.
“The meeting will also afford South Africa an opportunity to apprise the heads of state and government on national measures taken by South Africa to curb the spread of the virus.”
The meeting comes after home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said 94 Lesotho nationals had been deported from South Africa’s Lindela repatriation centre this week following a riot. The inmates have been demanding that they are returned to their country. Motsoaledi said discussions were underway with Zimbabwe on the repatriation of its nationals.
The Presidency said Ramaphosa would be supported during the discussions by the ministers of international relations and co-operation, health, as well as cooperative governance and traditional affairs.
The countries that have confirmed participation in the virtual conference include Angola, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
South Africa has the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Africa at 8,232, out of which 161 people have died, while 3 153 have recovered.
The country has tested 292.153 people so far for the coronavirus.