Cape Town, Parliament, 27 May 2020 – The Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy, together with the Select Committee on Land Reform, Environment and Mineral Resources and Energy, were briefed on Covid-19 responses and strategies, as well as regulations by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), and the Co-Chairpersons, Mr Sahlulele Luzipo and Ms Tebogo Mokoena, reiterated that operational activities at the mines should be anchored on health and safety measures.
The Chairpersons noted from the presentation of the department that Covid-19 mandatory testing has yielded at least 312 positive cases across the mining sector, and that those workers have since been placed in quarantine. The Chairpersons then commended the affected mines, as well as the DMRE for working together with the Department of Health to track and trace individuals who may have been in close contact with those who tested positive.
Mr Luzipo said that while Covid-19 should not be construed as an anti-work pandemic, the bigger responsibility lies with mine companies to ensure maximum compliance with all health and safety measures to prevent the spread of the virus. He further said that the department should develop a comprehensive strategy that will strengthen mine health and safety, in order to protect lives, grow the economy and create more jobs. Minister Gwede Matashe also remarked and said: “We need to learn to live with coronavirus, because it will be here with us for a long time.”
Mr Luzipo and Ms Mokoena were comforted to hear that it is all systems go in so far as monitoring compliance with health and safety measures at the mines during the level 3 lockdown. They were told that mines have committed themselves to test and provide transport to all workers who will return from the SADC countries during the level 3 lockdown, and that those workers will be subjected to mandatory quarantine before returning to work.
Mr Luzipo and Ms Mokoena impressed upon the department to ensure energy security during level 3 lockdown and other subsequent levels, in order to allow the economy to grow and create more jobs. They cautioned the department to be vigilant on the mines that may want to take advantage of Covid-19 to lay off workers.
Lastly, Mr Luzipo and Ms Mokoena encouraged the department to seize underlying opportunities presented by Covid-19, including low prices on crude oil.