COSATU statement on the President Cyril Ramaphosa’s revised measures in the fight against Covid-19.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) notes the President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of new and revised measures in the fight against Covid-19.  The Federation reiterates its appreciation to the heroic health and other essential workers who continue to carry the nation on their shoulders at great cost to themselves.

We welcome the measures to reopen restricted parts of the economy in particular the hospitality, tourism as well as the liquor industries.

It is important for all South Africans and retailers to handle the reopening of alcohol sales with extreme care.  South Africans must treat the limited reopening of alcohol sales with the maturity that this pandemic demands.  We cannot afford to flood our overstretched healthcare institutions with victims of the abuse of alcohol again.  Government must continuously monitor this situation and deal with those who misbehave.

The arrival of the first consignment of vaccines is welcomed and workers look forward to the commencement of the vaccine programme in two weeks.  Whilst this is progress, government needs to be more transparent in how it manages the vaccination programme. We need to avoid any scent of corruption and opportunism near this vaccination process.

While we appreciate this progress and development government needs to ramp up and accelerate the vaccine roll out plan to ensure that all adults receive their vaccines before the end of 2021.  We cannot sustain economic restrictions until sometime in 2022.

Equally government and the health sector need to undertake a mass education programme to ensure that all adult persons in South Africa receive their vaccinations.  This needs to include undocumented migrant workers.  If we are to achieve the necessary population immunity levels, then we cannot afford to leave anyone behind.

The measures to assist our neighboring states are welcome and critical given our close travel and trade relations.  The Federation supports Cabinet’s nomination of the Cuba Medical Brigade for the Nobel peace prize.  The recognition of Cuba’s selfless contribution to South Africa and Africa is long overdue.All properly adjusted people need to rally behind this important  decision to recognize the generosity of the Cubn people.

It is concerning that government has not shared its plans to safely reopen school in two weeks’ time.  The reopening of schools needs to be exercised to ensure that they do not contribute to a future surge in infections.

The lack of enforcement of health and safety measures on our trains and taxis continues to undermine the nation’s efforts.  The Department of Transport and SAPS need to do much more to enforce regulations in public transport.

The ANC NEC and the Cabinet Lekgotla committed government to re-engage organised labour and business at Nedlac on providing economic and social relief to distressed and restricted workers, businesses, and industries at Nedlac.  It is worrying that the President’s announcement did not mention this. 

The Federation trusts that government will return to Nedlac to meaningfully engage with social partners on measures to provide relief to workers, communities, and businesses. 

These need to include the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s Covid-19 TERS, the R350 Covid-19 grant, a revamped Loan Guarantee Scheme and tax relief.  Equally the commercial banks and the Reserve Bank need to come to the party and provide urgent relief to a battered economy.

The fight against Covid-19 is both a health and a socio-economic fight.  It must be fought on both fronts.

The decrease in infection and stabilisation of death rates provides hope to the nation, but it must not lull people into a reckless abandonment of the necessary health and safety measures.  We cannot afford to rush into the anticipated 3rd wave.

  Issued by COSATU

 Sizwe Pamla (COSATU National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 679