While opposition political parties have widely welcomed the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that South Africa will be on lockdown for 21 days, the governing ANC has bizarrely called on its structures to go out and support those infected with COVID-19, as well those in self isolation.
This move may potentially expose those ANC activists to the virus and would be in violation of the regulations of the lockdown, which essentially orders everyone to stay home, except those working in essential services.
ANC Secretary General, Ace Magashule, made the call in a video sent out to the media late last night [Monday] in reaction to Ramaphosa’s announcement.
“The ANC urges all South Africans to support the infected and affected and to stand with those who are undergoing treatment or those who are quarantined during this difficult time. The ANC calls on all its structures to work with other sectors of society and to be in the forefront of community efforts to combat the spread of the virus," said Magashule.
Reputation management expert, Tshepo Matseba, Managing Director at Reputation 1st, said while well intended, Magashule’s comments could cause confusion.
“Given that we are on lockdown, a political party cannot run a parallel process with that which is ran by the national government. In this context the national command council is the only platform through which instructions could be given to citizens to either donate or offer support and the minute you say people should go and rally, it could be completely misinterpreted to mean that people should actually go against what the president has communicated, which is that we are now on lockdown," said Matseba.
Magashule is not the first one to call on ANC structures to play a leading role in fighting COVID-19. Just last week Limpopo Health MEC, Phophi Ramathuba, said the ANC Youth League in the province’s Peter Mokaba Region would be the first to distribute pamphlets as league members had phoned her asking to volunteer. It's not clear if Ramathuba's call would extend to the lockdown period.