Covid-19: Africa goes begging to support the vulnerable in its backyard

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By Mary Taruvinga

THE African Union (AU), through its chairperson, Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed a special envoy to solicit for financial support from international institutions to help poverty stricken African countries whose budgets are being stretched by the coronavirus pandemic.

The world’s poorest continent has recorded over 13 000 cases and plus-700 deaths since the outbreak of the highly infectious disease December last year.

In a statement Sunday, Ramaphosa, who is also South African President, said there was need to solicit for a stimulus package as well as defer debt and interest payment by Africa in light of its poor status.

“The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been global in both scale and reach and this necessitates coordinated international action to capacitate all countries effectively but most particularly developed countries that continue to shoulder a historical burden of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment.

“The sentiment expressed in two recent letters written to the G20 by a group of world leaders and a team of esteemed economists underscore the importance of bolstering health system in power countries this can only be done with the support of the international community.”

Ramaphosa’s team includes, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Trevor Manuel, Dr Donald Kaberuka, Tidjane Thiam who are top economists.

The AU chair said the appointment of the special envoy would expedite the process of securing economic support to enable countries on the continent to respond swiftly to the grave public health emergency.

The special envoy according to Ramaphosa has long lasting relationships in the international financial community.