Health minister draws praise as his star looks to be on the rise
Zweli Mkhize’s handling of South Africa’s health emergency is on par with top global leaders, says Bloomberg.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s star is shining brightly for his handling of South Africa’s coronavirus emergency and he could likely be the eventual successor to President Cyril Ramaphosa, says international news agency Bloomberg.
The respected and businesslike news giant is not given to wild pronouncements, so Bloomberg’s observations around his management of the country’s response to COVID-19, along with that of the President of course, is not to be taken lightly.
“Advised by a panel of top scientists, Mkhize has crisscrossed the country assessing the health system’s ability to cope with an anticipated surge in cases,” notes Bloomberg in an article published on Sunday, 10 May.
“A medical doctor, he’s made scores of television appearances to educate the public about the disease. Alongside Ramaphosa, he’s been a driving force behind one of the world’s strictest lockdowns that’s helped limit infection-related fatalities to186 since the first case was detected two months ago.”
Health minister is in impressive company
Bloomberg says the elevation in Mkhize’s political standing mirrors that of other international politicians credited with leading effective responses to the pandemic.
These include Germany’s Federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Both are riding powerful waves of popularity.
But the pandemic is not over yet
But the article emphasises that the pandemic still has a long way to go in South Africa, with its peak only projected to be around September. Mkhize and Ramaphosa’s handling of the crisis, therefore, is far from over and any missteps could still derail the future prospects of what could become the ANC’s re-election ‘dream team’ for the 2022 national elections.
“If Ramaphosa wants to continue for a second term, then Mkhize would be an ideal running mate as he would be able to secure the very important KwaZulu-Natal voting block,” Susan Booysen, director of research at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection in Johannesburg, told Bloomberg.
Should Ramaphosa step down “Mkhize would have a huge amount of public support” to take over, she said.
Other praise for Mkhize and Ramaphosa
South Africa’s handling of the pandemic has drawn praise from other quarters too.
In a report published in early April, the BBC said “South Africa seems to have acted faster, more efficiently, and more ruthlessly than many other countries around the world”.
It added: “One rung below the president, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has likewise garnered near universal praise for his no-nonsense, energetic performance, and his sober, deeply knowledgeable, daily briefings.”
Similarly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has delivered lavish praise. “The strategy in South Africa was based on preparation, primary prevention, lockdown and enhanced surveillance.” said the WHO’s Mike Ryan.