COSATU welcomes the 132 South Africans who have been repatriated from China. We commend the government departments and agencies that participated in this mission for a job well done.We hope that South Africans will educate themselves about the COVID-19 virus so that they are not tempted to stigmatise and discriminate against people over the Covid-19 virus, especially those coming from China. Panicking and being alarmist is not helpful in a crisis because even being infected is not necessarily a death sentence.
South Africa has a long history of fighting a deadly virus like HIV and we know better than anyone else the negative role that stigma plays in fighting a virus. We need to fight misinformation and listen to official information coming from qualified experts on this matter.
The Federation recognises that education and awareness remain our best strategy in the fight against the virus. This the reason why the federation is working with the Health Department and institutions like the National Health Laboratory Services to develop a program that will focus on educating our members through training programs for shop stewards and social communications campaigns.
COSATU urges all social partners to play their role in improving awareness among their members about this virus. The Federation has called for a Special NEDLAC meeting on Monday at the level of EXCO to discuss the role each constituency in NEDLAC has to play in stopping the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The meeting will also resolve on steps to be taken to prop our ailing economy in the face of recession and the outbreak of coronavirus. COSATU would like to see the Reserve Bank cutting the interests by 100 basis points just like other reserve banks around the world. Commercial Banks should also do likewise give relief to consumers and businesses.
The government and the private sector need to release funds to stimulate the economy. The private sector needs to abandon the ongoing investment strike to save the economy. We need real concrete plans to protect the mining and manufacturing sectors, now that many countries are banning international traveling.
We also need to discuss measures to prop up and support tourism, retail, and hospitality sectors that depend on traveling and tourism. We need creativity and decisiveness on the part of all social partners to rescue our ailing economy from succumbing to the COVID-19 virus. The Meeting must also engage the UIF to see how best to provide safety nets to workers who must undergo quarantine and are unable to work for up to 14 days.
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794