COSATU statement on President Ramaphosa’s updates on the Fight Against Covid-19, efforts to restore law and order and help those affected by the riots in KZN and Gauteng

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) notes and welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of progress in the fight against Covid-19. We also note the progress that has been made to restore law and order and open economic supply lines in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.  We hope to see all those responsible for this chaos prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The federation is troubled by the socioeconomic devastation caused by the impact of COVID-19 on the South African economy, in particular the massive job-losses that have taken place since its outbreak. This will continue to be a source of social instability and calls for the intensification of interventions by government to the demands of the people.

The easing of restrictions on various parts of the economy will help inject stimuli into badly affected sectors. This will help save wages, jobs, and businesses on the verge of collapse.

We welcome the reintroduction of the R350 Covid-19 Grant for the unemployed persons across the country, and the provision of food parcels to the destitute, especially after these latest riots in KZN and Gauteng.

Most of the key measures announced by the President to help rebuild shattered communities and businesses; and provide relief to workers and the unemployed are in line with some of the key proposals submitted by the federation at Nedlac.

The Federation is pleased that government has taken into consideration and endorsed some of our proposals.  These will, hopefully, go a long way to provide relief to the poor, save jobs and rebuild destroyed businesses.

We hope that SASRIA will move with speed to release funds so that businesses can restock, rebuild, and reopen as soon as possible. We are happy with the commitment by government to provide financial relief to the uninsured and informal businesses. However, more clarity is needed on the amount to ensure that it is sufficient, and no one is left behind.

The Federation also demands more clarity on the extension of the UIF COVID TERS to vulnerable workers, restricted businesses and those workers affected by the violence in the two provinces. COSATU insist that this relief should not be linked to workers’ available credits, otherwise many will receive little or no relief.

We also note the expansion and an increase of the Employment Tax Incentive for badly affected sectors; and tax relief for affected businesses, including the liquor sector. We hope that government will do more to monitor the implementation of the Employment Tax Incentive because it has a terrible record and has been abused and exploited by unscrupulous and devious employers. 

The notable increase in daily vaccinations to over 240 000 is a longed-for development and we salute the health workers for their tireless efforts.  But more needs to be done to increase the daily vaccination rates to over 300 000 over weekends when most workers have time off and can vaccinate. 

The lowering of the vaccination age to 18 years from 1st of September will , optimistically, help to further push up the numbers and ensure that we meet the 67% population immunity target by the end of 2021.  We all have a collective responsibility to make the vaccination programme a success because this is the only way to ensure that society and the economy can reemerge safely from this pandemic.

The Federation will not let up in pushing government to triple the Presidential Employment Programme which has created over 300 000 teaching assistant jobs, so that it can help absorb an additional million jobs.

We also reiterate our position for government to table the legislation in Parliament that will allow workers some limited access to their pension funds during this time of distress, as promised by Minister Mboweni in his October 2021 Budget Statement to Parliament.

The complete absence of relief from the banks to affected workers, consumers and businesses is disappointing. The banks need to provide loan payment holidays for those affected by the violence in KZN and Gauteng and those who have lost wages.  Equally, we expect each of the five big banks to make contributions to the Solidarity Fund in support of those who are struggling because of COVID and the riots in KZN and Gauteng.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Cell: 060 975 6794