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Women duo at the forefront of Coega’s Covid-19 Strategy & Vaccination Drive - published 11 Aug 2021



WOMEN DUO:
at the forefront of CDC’s efforts in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic (left) Ms Viwe Biyana, CDC Unit Head for Safety, Health, Environment & Quality, and leader of the COVID-19 Vaccination Drive. (right) Ms Zola Ngoma, CDC Unit Head for Human Resources and chair of the COVID-19 Task Team.


Women duo at the forefront of Coega’s Covid-19 Strategy & Vaccination Drive


Gqeberha, 12 August 2021 – As the world continues to come to grips with the COVID 19 pandemic and its ramifications. With it, has come challenges that few would have ever imagined. Equally, as with any crisis, opportunities are birthed, and leaders are edged to the front, with only a few putting up their hands during a time of uncertainty.

Leading the charge at the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) is a women duo comprising of Ms Zola Ngoma, CDC Unit Head for Human Resources and Chair of the COVID-19 Task Team, together with Ms Viwe Biyana, CDC Unit Head for Safety, Health, Environment & Quality, and leader of the COVID-19 Vaccination Drive, have been at the forefront of CDC’s efforts in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whilst this effort is largely led by women, the CDC also owns up to the challenge of increasing the number of women at senior and executive levels in the CDC, driven by the organisation’s attraction and retention strategy through Human Resources.

“Our work in earnest started little over a year, following the lock down announcements and regulations by the South African (SA) 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,” says Ms Ngoma.

“With the CDC having strategic operational footprint in South Africa and beyond the borders in the African continent, much of what it’s had to do, is to cope with and rapidly adjust to the ‘new normal,’ and this hasn’t been easy” adds Ms Ngoma.

The CDC has implemented vital operational measures for business continuity. Key amongst those has been providing employees with tools of trade to remain productive, engaged and effective, whilst working from home during the lockdown period. Conducting most of its business through online systems, holding online meetings with local and international clients, investors and stakeholders alike to increase investment pipeline and attract FDI into the Coega Special Economic Zone (SEZ). Along with the extension of the CDC’s Health and Safety Wellness Primary Healthcare services to include the testing for the pandemic by a qualified Occupational Medicine Practitioner and registered nurses available at the CDC Wellness Centre.

“As part of 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),” says Ms Biyana.

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 in realisation of its vision to be a leading catalyst for championing of socio-economic development and contribute to the important national effort to defeat 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 to the Coega Wellness Centre Clinic, culminating with the approval coming into effect on 29 July 2021,” elaborates Ms Biyana.

The objective of the Coega Wellness Centre Clinic becoming a vaccination site is to contribute to SA’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.

“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,” highlights Ms Biyana.

Ms Ngoma concludes by highlighting that – “leading a team during a pandemic is something that has never crossed my mind. Daily, 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 to 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 COVID19 protocols and never let our guard down!”

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