Photo: Highway Mail

Sandile Motha

The soaring of Corona virus cases within eThekwini district has been turned into a political football with opposition parties lambasting the strategy that the city has employed to deal with the pandemic.

By the end of this week Durban accounted for more than 600 confirmed COVID-19 cases with an infected rate of an average of 10 cases reported daily. The total tally for the province stood at 919 on Thursday.

eThekwini and iLembe districts are leading the pack with the highest infections.

These statistics, the Inkatha Freedom Party and the Economic Freedom Fighters say, was frightening and a ticking time bomb.

“This exposes the MEC for health because the dramatic increase in numbers show that the COVID- 19 management strategy was not yielding any positive results. There are also no proper records on how many homes have been visited to conduct tests for Corona so far.

“If we continue to move with this pace, more people will die because by the time they are tested the virus would have severely compromised their immune system because of the delay in tracking them down. The poor people those living in rural parts and the townships will carry the brunt of this disease,” IFP eThekwini municipality caucuses leader, Mdu Nkosi told Inside Metro.

He said the law enforcement agencies mainly the SAPS and the metro police unit were failing in their duty to enforce the lock down regulations.

“Currently there is no police visibility in shelters accommodating the homeless people within the city. There is overcrowding and the people go in and out of the shelters whenever they want to. This will be the new epicentre of Corona lies,” said Nkosi.

He said because of the lack of efficient policing, drug lords were now using homeless people housed in various shelters as conduits, selling to their peers inside the shelters.

“Some drug dealers are masquerading as non-profit organisations providing food to the needy but they are only there to supply drugs,” explained Nkosi.

He also took issue with skewed distribution of food parcels, saying those who were poor and deserving were ignored.

“There is no coordinated approach to food distribution. Because of this, politicians are handing out food parcels to their friends and ignoring the cries of the poor,” he said.

Nkosi’s sentiments were also echoed by the Economic Freedom Fighters Vusi Khoza.

“Since the commencement of the lock down, the city has been on a reign of terror demolishing shacks as a result many families are now destitute. If you destroy homes, you are directly saying people should loiter around and break the lock down regulations because they have no alternative shelter,” said Khoza.

Recently the municipality has come under fire for targeting shack dwellers demolishing their homes despite the special resolution passed by the United Nations prohibiting evictions during the COVID-19 outbreak.

In its defence the municipality said it was only dealing with newly built structures, saying most people were opportunists taking advantage of the chaos created by the novel coronavirus.

Mayoral spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa nullified the assertions that the city was ill prepared to deal with COVID-19.

“The municipality is doing all it can to contain the spread of the virus under the circumstances. We have a command team that meets weekly to discuss any identified shortcomings and what can be done to address them. This is not the time to apportion blame instead we must all join hands to assist,” said Mntungwa.

The adverse impact of Corona has also affected the city’s economic spin-offs following various high profile events and tourism being put to a halt.

eThekwini relies heavily on tourism and entertainment as a major economic booster. International events such as the Tourism Indaba and the World Football Summit were forced to be postponed. These events were expected to inject millions of rands into the city coffers.

The World Football Summit is an international gathering of football minds to discuss the game and generate economic opportunities.

It was billed for Durban in March and was coming to Africa for the first time. The Durban July, another draw card and money spinner for the city looks unlikely to be held.

However, Gold Circle, the organisers of the horse, fashion and entertainment showpiece said they have pushed the event to July 25 instead of the regular date of July 1.

The organisation said it would adhere to social distance regulations and will adjust the event according to the COVID-19 regulations.

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