The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the Competition Commission’s finding on Covid-19 PCR tests’ price gouging. It is critical that all service providers without exception accept this progressive judgement and embrace its ruling that the prices for PCR tests are to be reduced from the inflated R850 to R500 with immediate effect. Any company which fails to abide by this ruling must be charged and fined.
Whilst the Federation welcomes this ruling, we do not believe it goes far enough. Over 90 000 lives and 2.2 million jobs have been lost during this pandemic. More than 3 million South Africans were infected by Covid-19. Millions more forked out R850 for these tests, many of whom did so out of their own pockets as more than 85% of South Africans do not have medical aid.
This price gouging and manipulation comes on the backs of the grief of an entire nation. It has depleted the pockets of millions of workers who have already lost jobs and wages. It has robbed the public fiscus of millions that was needed to help save lives and livelihoods. Simply allowing these companies to walk away with a slap on the wrist is not acceptable.
The Competition Act was amended in 2018 to empower the Competition Commission and government to deal with such abusive, corrupt, and monopolistic behaviour when it affects the public interest.
The Competition Commission needs to use these powers not only to set a price limit, but also to hold the offending companies financially liable for the losses they have inflicted upon millions of workers, companies, the public fiscus and the economy at large. Timidity will not suffice; what is needed is bold and decisive action that will claw back the ill-gotten gains from these companies who have shamelessly exploited the long-suffering public.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (COSATU National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 679