COSATU Welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Announcement of the Ending of the State of Disaster 

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of the ending of the state of disaster. Whilst supporting the lifting of the state of disaster, it is critical that all South Africans appreciate that Covid-19 remains a real threat to the lives and livelihoods of millions and that a fifth wave is expected as winter approaches.  Everyone has a responsibility to play their part in managing the new normal.  This includes wearing masks indoors, sanitising, social distancing, and for everyone to vaccinate and receive their booster shots.  

 Government must reinforce and invest in our healthcare institutions and address the real crisis of a shortage of health workers, supplies and infrastructure.  We should not be found wanting again and the time to build the National Health Insurance is now. 

The extension of the R350 SRD Grant will provide welcome relief for more than 10 million unemployed persons receiving it.  It needs to be made permanent and linked to the food poverty level of R624.  It provides a foundation for a Basic Income Grant.  Measures being put in place to allow sports and the events industries to reemerge safely are positive.  They will provide relief for workers in those badly battered sectors.  Support from the fiscus and the banks must be sought for fragile economic sectors and job creation programmes. 

COSATU is engaging government and business at Nedlac on workplace health and safety measures and regulations to ensure that employers and workers can work safely.  This includes encouraging all persons, employed and unemployed, over the age of 12 years to vaccinate.  COSATU remains opposed to dismissing any worker who has not vaccinated.  The most effective ways to increase vaccination numbers is to educate, engage, persuade, and incentivise.  Victimising only serves as an unhelpful distraction. 

  As we emerge from the state of disaster, it is critical that government and business address the multiple economic crises facing the workers and the country.  The economy is in its deepest recession in a century.  Unemployment is at an all-time high of 46% with 2.2 million workers having lost their jobs since Covid-19 arrived.  Millions of workers have lost wages and are highly indebted.  Key State-Owned Enterprises, in particular Eskom, Transnet and Metro Rail as well as SABC, DENEL and the Post Office as well as many municipalities are in serious trouble and need to be helped to return to a sustainable path.  Investments and stimulus to grow the economy needs to be sourced.  We cannot afford to delay addressing these ticking time bombs any longer.  Saving and creating jobs must be at the heart of our economic recovery and the national agenda. 

Issued by COSATU. 

Matthew Parks 

Parliamentary Coordinator 

Cell: 082 785 0687