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Social cluster ministers assure provision of basic services during lockdown

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has also guaranteed grant recipients will be paid on time.

Minister of Human Settlements, Water & Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu at an inter-ministerial briefing on 24 March 2020 detailing how government will respond ahead of and during the 21-day lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Social cluster ministers on Tuesday said the state was ready to implement the 21-day lockdown but given an assurance South Africans would have access to basic services over this period.

Water Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said water would be made available for washing hands,

Sisulu said 2,000 vulnerable communities in 29 municipalities would be supplied by tankers, while the elderly in rural areas will get buckets and soap.

She said sites that had been identified were in Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape.

“2,000 communities and additionally 2,901 sites where we are going to provide water facilities in the rural areas and those that have come out of drought."

Sisulu said they were looking to buy as many water tankers as possible to ensure all South Africans in vulnerable areas are able to wash their hands properly.

The minister said while constant messages were sent out about washing hands, it was her department that had to make sure the whole country had water.

“We are aiming to buy out all tanks in the country, so we are saying to anyone producing them or selling please stop because we need them much more than anybody.”

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has also guaranteed grant recipients will be paid on time, while her Higher Education counterpart Blade Nzimande has appealed to university students to vacate residences.

She said new Sassa grant applications would be closed during the lockdown but the call centre would operate with minimal staff while shelters will remain open, but no visitors will be allowed.

Zulu said strict hygiene protocols would still be observed at all pay points but grant recipients would be paid on time.

“Elderly and disabled will be paid on 30 and 31 March while other grants from 1 April.”

Nzimande said exceptions were being made for international students and local students who could not vacate university residences, but all others must go home as per the recommendations of experts.

TVET colleges were expected to reopen next month but Nzimande said those dates would be reviewed.

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