- Things spiralled out of control in a parliamentary sitting as the EFF demanded a racial breakdown of Covid-19 statistics
- Shivambu demanded that Covid-19 statistics should include race and not just age and geographical area
- The Covid-19 virus has nothing to do with statistics and has to do with more important things, says Dr Zweli Mkhize
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The first National Assembly sitting since the Covid-19 lockdown started descended into chaos as the EFF demanded a racial breakdown of all the people who had tested positive for the coronavirus. The Red Berets were unrelenting in their quest to find answers.
MP Naledi Chirwa demanded that Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize should tell everyone the number of black people who have been infected and and those who have died as well as the number of white people.
An impatient Chirwa interjected while the minister was attending to the question and simply demanded nothing but numbers. Chirwa referenced the US, UK and Canada, saying they give out the race statistics in their Covid-19 reporting.
"Minister, in the UK, race-based stats were able to bring to the fore that black people are four times more likely to get coronavirus than white people. And in the US, race-based stats were able to expose the divide when it comes to access to healthcare. Then in Canada, race-based stats were used to predict and pre-empt hotspots"
Chirwa said race statistics matter and have been used for other viruses, Covid-19 should not be an exception:
Dr Zweli Mkhize responded to Chirwa, saying the spread of Covid-19 has nothing to do with race but rather about "social conditions" such as social distancing and adhering to all the safety measures such as wearing masks. The minister went on to say what they have seen as important is the question of pre-existing health conditions and access to quality health services.
The spirit of camaraderie appeared alive and well in the EFF as Chirwa's colleagues rushed to her corner. MPs Floyd Shivambu, Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi backed Chirwa, demanding the minister give out this information.
"On a point of order, speaker. The minister has been giving statistics in terms of the age and the areas where people have been impacted by the coronavirus. What is difficult about giving us the racial composition?"
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Speaker of parliament Thandi Modise ruled Shivambu out of order and called for his mic to be muted, saying "The minister has responded to this question." Ndlozi and Mkhaliphi had differing views to the speaker of parliament and continued to demand a racial breakdown of the Covid-19 numbers.
Things quickly spiralled as out of control as MPs started speaking over each other until the mute function of Microsoft Teams had to be used, but it wasn't before Ndlozi took a shot at Modise. Ndlozi attacked Modise, saying:
"You see, speaker, it is this attitude that made you be complicit when Marikana [massacre] was occurring - of refusing to press out proper information from those...."
Ndlozi was cut off before finishing his sentence, but the speaker took an offence to the comment about the Marikana massacre that claimed the lives of 34 miners. She responded saying:
"I was not complicit in Marikana ... and this is not a platform to try and justify it. I have nothing to do with Marikana and therefore you cannot even drag my name into this thing."
The speaker of parliament then closed her episode. To date, the country has 25 937 confirmed Covid-19 cases with a total of 552 deaths.
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