COSATU statement on President Ramaphosa’s newly announced adjustments to the Covid-19 disaster management restrictions

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) notes President Ramaphosa’s announcement of adjustments to the Covid-19 disaster management restrictions. The Federation welcomes the tightening of restrictions with the objectives of saving lives and minimising the impact on livelihoods like lowering the curfew to 11:00 pm.

We are deeply concerned though that government did not go further in reducing the still disproportionately high numbers of persons allowed to gather indoors and outdoors.  Most of such gatherings are social and not economic in nature.  These gatherings are the largest vectors for spreading the pandemic. 

As we seek to delay the 3rd wave, these numbers need to be reduced to fifty (50) indoors and hundred (100) outdoors.  We should not gamble with the lives of South Africans by allowing such large public gatherings that are not essential to the economy’s wellbeing.

COSATU is holding engagements with sectors of the economy affected by the gatherings’ restrictions and the Unemployment Insurance Fund at Nedlac to see what relief can be provided to their workers and businesses, in the sports, hospitality and related industries.  An agreement has already been reached that workers over 60 years of age worker or who have co-morbidities and who cannot safely resume work will be assisted by the UIF.

Government needs to do much more to enforce the existing health and safety measures, in particular the wearing of PPEs, sanitising and social distancing, especially in the public transport system, where there is very little adherence to the restrictions.

The tepid roll out of the vaccines remains baffling.  The slow pace and continuous delays are putting millions of lives and livelihoods unnecessarily at risk.  The progress made in the past two weeks with the commencement of Phase 2 of the vaccine roll out programme is welcome, but it is not enough.  We need to be dispensing at least 200 000 people daily, including on weekends.  All vaccine sites need to be open, including at workplace sites that have the necessary capacity. 

A mass communications programme is needed to mobilise everyone to register to receive their vaccines.  The economy cannot afford to limp along under restrictions and shutdowns indefinitely.

The Federation welcomes government’s efforts to seek a TRIPS waiver for the vaccines.  This needs to be intensified, along with expanding our domestic pharmaceutical and medical supply industry.  South Africa should never again be held hostage to the whims of international manufacturing when it comes to the lives of its people.

Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Cell: 060 975 6794