| Makhura not ruling out closing sectors in Gauteng if infections become uncontrollable

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Gauteng Premier David Makhura.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura.

  • Gauteng Premier David Makhura says he will ask for the province to be moved to Level 4 if infections become uncontrollable.
  • He said it was important to address health measures while ensuring that people could return to work.
  • Gauteng’s budget is set to increase by R56.3 million.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura says his government would be in a “difficult position” if it were to push for the closure of certain sectors, but it would do so if Covid-19 infections became uncontrollable.

He told the Gauteng legislature during a sitting on Thursday that the country’s economic hub would be in the midst of the pandemic’s surge within the next two months. He expected it to be “tough”.

Makhura also admitted the peak would likely hit sooner than initially calculated, especially as more sectors of the economy were opening.

READ | Gauteng gears up for Covid-19 onslaught

Members of the provincial legislature debated and voted on budget speeches for the 2020/21 financial year.

Makhura said extraordinary circumstances had affected the ambitious plans his government had laid out for Gauteng.

“We can almost be put in a difficult conundrum, where we would have to choose between closing [again] the economy and schools because the infection is increasing. This will be a very difficult choice to make, we don’t want to go back there,” he said.

Not ideal

Makhura said it was not ideal to keep the economy closed, but it was important to address health measures while ensuring that people could return to work.

He said that, as schools were opening, along with sectors of the economy, this was being done carefully and in accordance with the country’s risk-adjustment strategy.

However, he added, that this did not mean ruling out possible changes to the alert levels.

“In some areas, if infections get out of control, we might be forced to go back to the National [Coronavirus] Command Council to close down certain areas or some sectors – we might go back and ask for the shutting down of those,” said Makhura.

Gauteng had several hotspots, but moved with the rest of the country to Level 3 at the beginning of June.

READ MORE| Easing lockdown: 10 things you need to know

Makhura was hopeful that households and the business sector would work well with the provincial government to ensure that measures, as outlined by the World Health Organisation, would be implemented to avoid having to revert back to Level 4.

Earlier, the speaker of the legislature, Ntombi Mekgwe, told MPLs that Gauteng’s budget would increase by R56.3 million – from R761.4 million in 2019/20 to R817.7 million.

She said because the budget could not meet all the requirements for programmes in the legislature, it had been forced to implement cost-efficiency measures and to reprioritise funds.

“Compensation of employees has increased by R22.6 million, while goods and services increased by R 27.5 million,” said the speaker.

Mekgwe also said transfers to political parties had been increased, to enable them to establish and maintain infrastructure to serve their constituencies.

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