27 June 2021
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) notes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of additional measures in the fight against Covid-19. The Federation understands and sympathizes with the President and his administration on this challenging but inevitable decision to move the country to lockdown alert level 4.
These additional restrictions imposed are necessary to stem the tide of infections, especially the prohibition of all gatherings, reduced numbers for funerals, and a tighter curfew. We note the ban on all alcohol sales to provide relief to hospitals, the early winter holidays for schools, and the need for restaurants to shift to take-aways only.
We appreciate the attempt by government to minimise disruptions to the economy whilst seeking to save lives. However, relief needs to be provided for those sectors of the economy prohibited from trading or required to downscale like the liquor, tourism, hospitality, sports, and events sectors.
This relief needs to come from not only the Unemployment Insurance Fund but also in the form of tax and rates holidays, loan and premium payment holidays from bank and insurance companies. Failure to provide relief is to condemn workers to jobs and wage losses, and businesses to total collapse. The South African government and the financial sector must do more to provide solidarity to workers and the economy.
Whilst supporting these additional restrictions, government needs to do far better in ensuring the enforcement. There is no point in promulgating restrictions and still turning a blind eye to those who choose to willfully ignore all these health and safety measures. Assertive measures are needed to monitor and ensure strict compliance by the liquor vendors, public transport operators and political parties.
The gradual increase in the daily vaccination rate to approximately 100 000 and the commencement of vaccinations of heavily exposed workplaces like healthcare institutions, schools, SAPS, SANDF, Correctional Services and the mining sector is welcome.
Other high-risk sectors need to follow suit as soon as possible, manufacturing, transport, retail, early childhood, and tertiary education sectors. The daily rate of 100 000 is woefully inadequate though and it needs to be increased to at least 300 000 a day, 7 days a week. The current failure to vaccinate over weekends is beyond comprehension and needs to be fixed now. More resources need to be allocated to the vaccination rollout.
Government needs to accelerate vaccination roll outs in hotspots like Gauteng because we cannot afford to have 18 000 infections a day, whilst hundreds of thousands of vaccines are sitting in warehouses.
COSATU also wants to see more being done to reinforce our heroic nurses, doctors, and other health workers. The strain they are working under needs to be eased and additional resources should be made available to give them the necessary relief. It is unacceptable that these hardworking health professionals are forced to look after patients in parking lots.
The Independent Electoral Commission also needs to explain to the nation what it will do to ensure that the planned October Local Government elections can be held in a manner that is free and fair, and that does not put the lives of voters and the public at large at risk. This is a matter that the nation needs to interrogate and resolve upon urgently.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Cell: 060 975 6794