National Assembly disappointed by Omicron travel restrictions on SADC countries

National Assembly Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, has expressed disappointment at the travel restrictions imposed on certain African countries, including South Africa, by some countries in light of the identification of the new COVID-19 variant.

The Omicron variant was identified by South African scientists last week.

The identification of the variant has created panic around the world, resulting in inbound and outbound travel bans against southern African countries.

Mapisa-Nqakula expressed her disappointment at the 7th Brics Parliamentary Forum which was held on the side-lines of the 143rd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) currently underway in Madrid, Spain.

She is leading a six-member multiparty delegation of the South African Parliament to the Assembly.

She said that COVID-19 was entrenching stereotypes in ways that could never have been imagined. The travel restrictions, which were not informed by science, were essentially a punishment for world class science and responsible global citizenship as well as transparency and openness, the Speaker said.

She concurred with the South African government’s assertion that, as a responsible global citizen, the country was duty-bound to report any new variants of concern to the international community, which has been done without fail due to country’s world-class expertise and monitoring.

The Speaker was accompanied to the meeting by other members of the South African Parliamentary delegation to the IPU, Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP Sylvia Lucas, House Chairperson for International Relations Madala Ntombela, EFF Chief Whip Mr Floyd Shivambu and ANC parliamentarian Judith Tshabalala.

Also making remarks to the meeting, Lucas stressed that women, African women in particular, continued to be disproportionately affected by the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, which include poverty, unemployment and economic exclusion.

“Women’s quality of life has depreciated as this pandemic threatens to reverse some of the important advances and gains that we have made as women,” she said.

During the same session, Shivambu cautioned against the agenda of certain nations to undermine the unity of the Brics.

The Brics Parliamentary Forum is constituted by the National Congress of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the Parliament of the Republic of India, the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, and the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa.

It was founded, among other things, to strengthen and promote contacts at the leadership level of chambers, committees and groups of parliamentarians; perform inter-parliamentary exchanges and hold regular expert consultations; and create and develop new inter-parliamentary cooperation mechanisms.

Source: South African Government News Agency