'We remain sceptical about vaccine certificates' - Cosatu
Cosatu has called for health authorities to take Covid-19 vaccination to the people, including townships, informal areas, taxi ranks, churches, farms and villages, as part of scaling up vaccination to reach the required 70% of the adult population by the end of this year.
Responding to President Cyril Ramaphosa's address on Thursday night, in which he eased Covid-19 restrictions from alert level 2 to alert level 1, the trade union said the government should also extend the vaccination to adolescents over the age of 12 and provide booster shots to the elderly and healthcare workers.
“We remain sceptical about the introduction of vaccine certificates. We need to know how they will be protected from abuse, fraud and corruption and be accessible to people in rural areas or those without access to technology. We cannot afford a situation where people end up buying vaccine certificates and then our entire vaccine programme’s integrity will be questioned. This will defeat the very purpose of persuading and mobilising people to vaccinate,” said Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla.
Pamla said the federation remains “deeply concerned” about the excessive relaxation of some of the non-pharmaceutical interventions. “The massive increase in numbers for public gatherings is very worrying and may accelerate the anticipated fourth wave in November. Government needs to reconsider what is potentially a reckless and unnecessary easing of restrictions. This will be worsened in the run-up to the local government elections. Society needs to consume alcohol responsibly because we cannot afford to continue to abuse alcohol and place unbearable strain on our healthcare facilities and workers.”
The trade union expressed disappointment at Ramaphosa’s failure to roll out the temporary relief scheme of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to assist thousands of workers still waiting for the long-delayed relief from alert level 4, which was in March and June, and during unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July. “This is an unforgivable delay to thousands of workers and a failure on the part of the UIF that needs to be addressed now. The federation will be requesting a meeting with the minister and director-general for employment and labour to fix this inexplicable crisis. Workers deserve better.”
Meanwhile, the DA has called for an end to the protracted lockdown and tate of disaster.
DA leader John Steenhuisen said ending the lockdown altogether will save livelihoods. “People are suffering and jobs continue to be lost unnecessarily to senseless restrictions that have long since been ignored by his own party. President Ramaphosa and his government appear not to grasp the severity of our jobs crisis that has produced the world’s highest recorded unemployment rate of 44%. Only the most callously uncaring leaders would continue to force job-destroying restrictions on law-abiding people while breaking those rules themselves, as the ANC did yet again in its manifesto launch last week, where there was not even an attempt at mask-wearing, social distancing or limiting the gathering to 500.”
“There is no justification for continuing the lockdown and the State of Disaster. Covid cases are decreasing across all nine provinces, every adult has by now had ample opportunity to get vaccinated, and people are well aware of the precautions they need to take to manage the risks they face. SA’s economy will not recover while the threat of irrational restrictions imposed with no notice at all continues to hang over people. Businesses require certainty and must no longer be held ransom to the whims of people who have no idea how jobs are created and whose own jobs are secure no matter what,” he said.
This was echoed by Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, who said the state of disaster could not be used indefinitely in an economy that needed to recover and create millions of jobs.
“While I welcome the move to alert level 1, as an important first step required for economic recovery, I remain concerned that no clear announcement was made by the president on when the national state of disaster will end. We must enable provincial and local government responses through an established traffic-light warning system, based on predetermined measures of health platform capacity. This will enable provincial, differentiated approaches in the future based on a provincial government’s capacity to respond to increased pressures,” said Winde.