COSATU statement on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s latest announcement on measures to fight COVID-19 

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) notes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of updates in the fight against Covid-19.  The Federation welcomes progress made towards lifting the remaining disaster management restrictions, those that impede the economy. 

We reiterate our gratitude and appreciation to frontline workers who did a wonderful job in fighting this deadly pandemic. The unsung heroes of this period are our health workers who have borne the brunt of the pandemic, our law enforcement officers who endeavoured to maintain law and order, and our many public and private essential workers who kept the system functioning and the economy moving. 

COSATU welcomes the easing of the remaining restrictions on the events, entertainment, sports, and other public gathering sectors.  These sectors have suffered heavily whilst the rest of society has been allowed to move on.  It is critical that government work with these sectors to enable them to operate safely and to provide meaningful relief to help them reemerge, save, and create jobs. 

 Whilst we are emerging from this two yearlong pandemic, it is critical that all South Africans remain vigilant. We all have a responsibility to continue to wear masks, sanitise and socially distance.   

COSATU continues to urge all persons above the age of 12 years to vaccinate and to receive their booster shots.  These health and safety measures are our most effective weapons in the fight against this deadly pandemic which has claimed the lives of more than 100 000 South Africans. 

The Federation remains opposed to the dismissal of any worker for not vaccinating.  It is important for employers to engage workers and their unions to address any concerns those workers or individuals may have.  Engagement not intimidation is the best means of persuasion.  

There are lessons that have been learned from this pandemic and going forward government needs to invest in our public healthcare infrastructure.  The nation should not be found wanting again. Health care expenditure should be increased, and the reckless budget cuts should be stopped. The establishment of a National Health Insurance must be accelerated. 

Whilst the UIF and SASSA did well to provide relief to more than 15.5 million workers and the unemployed, their IT systems are archaic and could not manage the strain.  These systems need to be modernised.   

It is unacceptable to continue with the long ques for social grants recipients. Such payments should be done electronically.  It is critical that Nedlac engagements on addressing gaps in the Unemployment Insurance Act be addressed to ensure that those workers fall outside its scope are included going forward. 

More must be done to rebuild the state’s capacity to enforce the rule of law, in particular the SAPS and SANDF.  Informal sectors operating outside the law need to be formalised and brought wihtin the legal framework, in particular the taxi sector.  Government needs to invest more in public transport, including rebuilding a Metro Rail decimated by a negligent state that failed to secure it during the lockdown. 

Issued by COSATU     

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794