The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) notes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that the country has been moved to Alert level 3 from Alert Level 1 to combat the deadly COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the country. The Federation like all South Africans is deeply alarmed by the rapid rise in infections and deaths due to this deadly virus.
Our hearts go out to all those who have lost loved ones during this painful period. We salute our tireless health and essential workers who continue to heroically carry this nation on their shoulders at great cost to themselves and their families. They are our unsung heroes.
The Federation understands and empathises with government at this difficult time, but we are disappointed by the poor enforcement of COVID-19 regulations that have been in place since the beginning of December 2020.
The health system is collapsing under the weight of rising infections and health workers are being let down by the lacklustre and an incoherent approach from government to stop the rise of infections. The hands-off approach by government is the reason we are going back to extreme lockdown levels.
If we are to make a dent in the rate of infections, enforcement of regulations is necessary because extreme lockdowns are not sustainable. These measures will only bear fruit if the government at all levels enforce the various health and safety measures with the seriousness they require.
It is also important for South Africans to be clearheaded and recognise that there is only so much the state can do. It is up to all of us, as individuals, to accept responsibility and play our role.
We agree that those who put the lives of others at risk must be arrested and put in jail.
Government and the banks need to appreciate the unsustainable economic and social toll that this lockdown and pandemic is placing on millions of workers and their families. Measures are, therefore, needed to give relief to the families who are struggling to feed themselves and keep up with their debt payments.
The Federation is also disappointed that this decision to move to level 3 takes place after the government unilaterally abandoned important economic and social relief measures like UIF COVID-19 TERS Fund. COSATU is demanding the government to implement the following:
-Extension the UIF’s Covid-19 TERS for workers and workplaces that remain under various levels of restrictions.
-Extension of the R350 unemployment grant.
-Providing direct financial relief for battered sectors of the economy.
-Providing tax relief for distressed workers and workplaces.
-Revamping the underutilised Loan Guarantee Scheme; and
-Providing debt relief for struggling consumers and businesses.
The government’s vaccine roll-out programme that project distribution to up to 10% of the population by June 2020 does not inspire confidence. More so when other countries across Europe and the Americas have begun mass vaccinations. We cannot afford to allow South Africans to die because of state lethargy.
Government and the private sector need to produce a plan to ensure that all South Africans will be vaccinated during 2020, starting with health and other essential workers, the elderly and those with co-morbidities.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794