Covid hits Cabinet, Swapo

A high-ranking cabinet official has allegedly contracted Covid-19, prompting yesterday's routine meeting to be held online, while the ruling party is doing its best to ensure a case reported at its head office does not enter the public domain.

12 August 2020 | Government

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK



Yesterday's routine cabinet meeting was held virtually after a senior official in that arm of government allegedly tested for Covid-19, while the ruling party Swapo is pulling all stops to conceal another case reported at its headquarters. The government official, whose identity is known to Namibian Sun, coordinates sittings of cabinet. He is the most senior government official known to have contracted the virus.

In WhatsApp screenshots seen by Namibian Sun, senior officials at the Swapo head office shot down a request by a party employee who wanted the party's director of administration Frans Kaudinge to issue a letter stating that a case was recorded at the head office.





The employee wanted the letter to be shared with those who had come into contact with the infected party official, so that it may be shared with employers of these contacts in order to be allowed to self-isolate.

Another party official suggested on the WhatsApp group that the infection case be kept “out of the public” by ensuring no such letter is issued.

Other institutions, including the ministry of finance yesterday, have issued public statements whenever an employee tested positive.

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila confirmed that yesterday's cabinet meeting occurred online, but she was coy on the reported virus infection.

“You have to direct that question to the minister of health, I do not have the details of who is infected,” she said.

The prime minister said the virtual meeting was held because it was a deliberate meeting involving all members of cabinet and not necessarily those entrusted with making final decision at the highest level.

“There was a virtual meeting, a deliberative meeting, the whole house of cabinet. It does not consider decision-making at the highest level,” she said further.

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula, himself a member of cabinet, pleaded ignorance of the alleged infection in the executive arm of government.



Parliament campus closes

The National Assembly and National Council were both closed after one staff member had tested positive for Covid-19 towards the end of July.

The move coincided with the closure of several businesses and institutions in and around Windhoek at the time.

“As a precautionary measure, due to the common areas used by staff of both institutions, and to safeguard life and health of the employees of the National Assembly, you are advised to work from home as from 27 July for 14-days,” Parliament said in a statement to staff members at the time.



Windhoek in troubled waters

Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon's health ministry update revealed that a staggering 79 of the new Covid-19 cases in the country were from Windhoek, while 35 were from Walvis Bay. Ten cases were from Swakopmund and one each from Onandjokwe, Oshakati, Outapi and Keetmanshoop.

The country's confirmed cases now stand at 3 229, with 715 recoveries, 2 495 active cases and 19 deaths.

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