‘The Year of Charlotte Maxeke’: Women at forefront of Covid-19 fight

The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) paid tribute to two women who have been at the forefront of the organisation’s efforts in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) paid tribute to two women who have been at the forefront of the organisation’s efforts in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This comes as SA commemorates Women’s Month under the theme, ‘The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: Realising Women’s Rights’, in recognition of the 150th birthday anniversary of Mme Charlotte Makgomo Mannya Maxeke.


Ngoma and Biyana take lead


Leading the charge at the CDC is a women duo comprising the CDC Unit Head for Human Resources and Chair of the Covid-19 Task Team, Zola Ngoma and CDC Unit Head for Safety, Health, Environment and Quality, and leader of the Covid-19 Vaccination Drive, Viwe Biyana.


“Our work in earnest started a little over a year ago, following the lockdown announcements and regulations by the South African government”.


“The CDC’s Covid-19 Task Team has aptly provided strategic and operational guidance to the organisation and continues during the varying lockdown alert levels to effectively curb the spread of the pandemic within the CDC and ensure that the organisation creates a safe and healthy workplace, and complies with the published government regulations,” Ngoma said.

With the CDC having a strategic operational footprint in South Africa and on the continent, the organisation has had to cope with and rapidly adjust to the ‘new normal’, a feat that Ngoma admitted “has not been easy”.


Operational measures


The CDC has implemented vital operational measures for business continuity.

Key amongst these has been providing employees with tools of the trade to remain productive, engaged and effective while working from home during the lockdown period.

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The CDC has been conducting most of its business through online systems, holding online meetings with local and international clients, investors and stakeholders alike to increase the investment pipeline and attract foreign direct investment (FDI) into the Coega Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

It has also extended its Health and Safety Wellness Primary Healthcare services to include the testing for the pandemic by a qualified Occupational Medicine Practitioner and registered nurses at the CDC Wellness Centre.

“Part of the CDC’s phase 2 response to the pandemic is the recent certification of the CDC Wellness Centre in Zone 4 of the Coega (SEZ) as a Covid-19 public vaccination site, following approval by the Department of Health (DOH),” Biyana said.


Women working for communities


Crucial to the CDC servicing investors is a dual responsibility of ensuring that the organisation positively impacts communities surrounding the SEZ.

This is in line with the CDC’s ongoing commitment to build healthy communities and to be a leading catalyst for championing socio-economic development and contributing to the important national effort of defeating the pandemic.

“The process of applying to become a vaccination site has been long and arduous. The CDC started on this journey around April 2021, followed by numerous inspections from the DOH [Department of Health] to the Coega Wellness Centre Clinic, culminating in the approval coming into effect on 29 July 2021,” Biyana said.


Herd immunity target


The objective of the Coega Wellness Centre Clinic in becoming a vaccination site is to contribute to the country’s enjoined responsibility of reaching a set target of 67% herd immunity and limiting the risk of severe or terminal illness upon contracting the virus.

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“Having to implement the rollout of a vaccination campaign during a pandemic has certainly proven to be one of the most fulfilling and challenging things I’ve had to do in my career.

“Appreciating the importance of vaccinations, and what they seek to achieve, juxtaposed with being a parent myself and wanting to be there for my family. I have used it as a source of courage, hope and inspiration,” Biyana said.

Ngoma said she never thought she would be leading a team during a pandemic.

“I am reminded of the number of people and great talent that has succumbed to this virus in our country and worldwide. This has a chilling effect on many of us and personally, it humbles and compels me daily to contribute. It also reminds us of the responsibility we have to both our employer and families, and why we should consistently adhere to the Covid-19 protocols and never let our guard down,” she said.


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