Writes Thandi Tobias
A blueprint for the world to learn from – decisive, quick and collaborative
The deadly Coronavirus has brought a dark cloud of fear and negativity around the world with Spain reporting 849 new deaths in a single day. Today, the total number of confirmed global cases exceeds 800 000. This includes 38 000 lives that were lost. In South Africa, the total number of confirmed cases by March 30th, was 1326 and the country lost three lives in total to Coronavirus.
While this may seem like gloom and doom, there are shifting patterns. More than 170 0000 people around the world have recovered from COVID-19, signalling the fact that there is hope at the end of the tunnel. It is only reasonable for citizens to feel anxious and apprehensive about this global catastrophe. However, there are quick wins that we can begin to appreciate as a nation, given the challenges faced by Italy, the US, Australia, the UK amongst others. Citizens from around the world have been mainly complimentary about South Africa’s responsiveness towards the pandemic, which is indicative of the fact that the country’s leadership, spearheaded by President Cyril Ramaphosa, together with his cabinet and various stakeholders, led a robust and strategic response which could be a lesson from which other leaders in the continent and world could learn.
South Africa responded quickly and took decisive actions by announcing a lockdown within eight days of the first loss of life and 402 cases confirmed. President Ramaphosa’s efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19 through the national lockdown for 21 days, bears testament to South Africa’s commitment in addressing COVID-19 with drive, tenacity and a sense of urgency. While there are pockets of commentators around the country, who felt that some of the measures taken were extreme, South Africans on the main, recognised that a global shock required globally effective action and response.
The reality of Covid19 is painful, but there is hope. As President Ramaphosa said, “South Africans have, for the most part, responded responsibly to this decision, by staying at home, observing the regulations and exercising the greatest of care. As a country, we need to stand in solidarity against this invisible enemy. We must discourage our families, friends and colleague from disobeying the laws of our country during this crucial period. Every time you violate the regulations the government has issued or try to get around the rules, you are putting yourself and others at risk and helping the virus to spread”.
We reiterate President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call, that the cost of not acting now would be far greater. We must prioritise the lives and livelihoods of our people, above all else and use all of the measures that are within our power to protect them from the economic consequences of this pandemic.
It is reasonable for one to be optimistic in the belief that South Africans will emerge victorious from the national lockdown, with its current – and future challenges, as free citizens, just like Nelson Mandela did when he emerged into the sunlight from the Victor Verster prison, after 27 years – a free man! As citizens, we must ensure a prosperous future for our children, which requires that we hold ourselves accountable and act responsibly. Now more than ever, the country needs more solidarity to encourage each other and every citizen to play their part. The future of our nation and humanity is in our hands.
Thandi Tobias is the Chairperson of Brand South Africa, the official marketing agency of South Africa, with a mandate to build the country’s brand reputation, to improve its global competitiveness.