How ready are we for coronavirus?

1 March 2020

The first confirmed coronavirus case in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, should serve as a wake-up call to our government to get its house in order and do a thorough job preparing for when – not if – the killer virus visits our shores.

This is because we have many South African companies doing business in Nigeria and their employees frequent­ly travel between the two countries. We also have many Nigerians calling South Africa home.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize should use his budget vote speech this month to take the nation into his confidence about what risks the nation faces and wheth­er our public health system, which has not covered itself in glory in the past, is ready to deal with the outbreak.

If China, the second-biggest economy in the world with an advanced public health system, is struggling to contain this virus, questions must be asked of our government’s state of preparedness. The coronavirus, which began in Wuhan, China, has now killed more than 2 800 people worldwide and infected more than 80 000.

The World Health Organisation has already said that porous borders, a con­tinuing flow of travellers and poorly re­sourced healthcare systems meant the risk of an outbreak across Africa was “very, very high” and raised significant concerns about the ability of “fragile health systems” to cope.

We need a steady hand at the Health Ministry and an assurance that officials are on top of the situation and have a cred­ible action plan on the table.

Women are also capable to lead

The cries of skuldegery by Muditam­bi Ravele at SA Sports Confedera­tion and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) must concern all of us.

While Sascoc had a woman as its dep­uty president in the form of Hajera Kajee in its outgoing executive, it would seem Tennis South Africa’s (TSA) Ravele’s bid for the main post ruffled feathers.

She has decided to withdraw on prin­ciple as some leading officials at her federation, TSA, and at Sascoc were allegedly not supportive.

She makes an important point with which we agree that she shouldn’t fight to serve. She is of the view that some men at Sascoc are neither ready nor liberated to be served by a woman as their presi­dent – which is a shame.

In soccer, Ria Ledwaba is also deputy chairman at Safa. We hope this is not her glass ceiling.

Elsewhere, club owner Mato Madla­la has been acting chief executive of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) for more than five years. If she’s good enough to run soccer for five years – just why is she not given the position on a full-time basis? We do not expect anybody at the PSL to say this is because she is a woman, in the same way that Ravele’s colleagues at Sascoc will not confess to snubbing her because of her gender.

Yet, in this country, and perhaps else­where around the globe, we all know how men doubt, in spite of evidence, that wom­en are just as capable of great leadership, if not better. Our sport needs liberation


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