COSATU statement on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s latest updates in the fight against COVID-19

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) notes President Ramaphosa’s updates in the fight against Covid-19. 

Vaccine Roll Out Campaign 

The Federation welcomes the efforts of government to ensure the procurement and distribution of vaccines.  This is a positive turnaround, and we salute the tireless efforts of our health workers who have ensured that over 17.5 million vaccine dosages have been dispensed, and over 25% of the adult population vaccinated.  

However, COSATU remains deeply concerned at the decrease in daily vaccination rates.  Vaccines have been proven to be highly effective in preventing infection, transmission, serious illness, hospitalisation and death.  The goal of achieving the 70% plus vaccination rate by the end of 2021 is critical to saving lives and livelihoods and to enable the economy to recover and rebuild.   

Much more needs to be done to engage, educate and address the concerns of those who are hesitant to vaccinate.  Government, educational institutions, religious sector, the media, unions, civil society, and business all need to play their role in this regard. 

We need to take vaccines to the people, to townships, informal areas, universities, taxi ranks, shopping centres, farms, villages, rural areas, churches, and mosques etc. 

Additional measures to boost vaccine demand are needed and these should include opening vaccinations to persons over 12 years of age, providing booster shots for health workers and those over 60 years of age or with co-morbidities.  It should also include incentives and rewards that some businesses are now providing.  

We remain skeptical about the introduction of vaccine certificates. We need to know how they will be protected from abuse, fraud and corruption and be accessible to persons in rural areas or those without access to technology.  We cannot afford a situation where people end up buying vaccine certificates and then our entire vaccine programme’s integrity will be questioned.  This will defeat the very purpose of persuading and mobilising people to vaccinate. 

Health and Safety Measures 

COSATU is deeply concerned with the excessive relaxation of some of the non-pharmaceutical interventions.  The massive increase in numbers for public gatherings is very worrying and may accelerate the anticipated 4th wave in November.  Government needs to reconsider what is potentially a reckless and unnecessary easing of restrictions.  This will be worsened in the run up to the local government elections. 

Society needs to consume alcohol responsibly because we cannot afford to continue to abuse alcohol and place unbearable strain on our healthcare facilities and workers. 

Economic and Social Relief 

COSATU is deeply disappointed that the President did not mention the failure of the UIF to roll out relief to the thousands of workers still waiting for the long-delayed relief from Level 4 (March 16 to June 25) as well as more recently the July violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.  This is an unforgiveable delay to thousands of workers and a failure on the part of the UIF that needs to be addressed now.  The Federation will be requesting a meeting with the Minister and Director-General for Employment and Labour to fix this inexplicable crisis.  Workers deserve better. 

Issued by COSATU. 

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson) 

Tel: 011 339 4911 

 Fax: 011 339 5080 

 Cell: 060 975 6794