File photo: ANA/Henk Kruger
File photo: ANA/Henk Kruger

EFF urges govt to reconsider easing lockdown, reopening schools

By SAMKELO MTSHALI Time of article published May 23, 2020

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Durban - The EFF have demanded that the government reconsider the “premature, senseless and reckless” reopening of various sectors of the economy and schools, until there is “a solid scientific and epidemiological” basis to do so.

South Africa is set to move to level 3 of the lockdown from 1 June, a move which will see several sectors of the economy being allowed to trade while schools will also be reopening for Grades 7 and 12.

However, the red berets said this week that this would be an ill-fated move as scientific guidelines by the Covid-19 Consortium had already estimated upwards of 40 000 deaths by the end of 2020 and that these scientific observations defeated any consideration to reopen many sectors of the economy and schools.

“The reality is that the reopening of many economic sectors, as evidenced by the Impala Mine infections in Limpopo, will rapidly increase the spread of the disease. The voices that are calling premature, unscientific reopening of the economy are predominantly led by racist white monopoly capital that has never cared for the lives of our people,” said the EFF’s spokesperson Vuyani Pambo.

He said that their view of black lives has always been as cheap and easily disposable and that this was why historically, black people had been subjected to risky working conditions that shorten their lives or leave them with diseases.

“The white monopoly capital knows that its privileged white population will be less if not exposed at all to the virus because their working conditions have guarantees of occupational health, safety and general access to quality healthcare. Opening the economy now will only lead to massive death of black people,” Pambo said.     

Another concern raised by Pambo was that the intention to permit the sale of alcohol under level 3 would worsen the situation because even when there is no effort to contain a pandemic, alcohol had been responsible for many health-related and social ills in society.

Included among some of the “non-negotiable conditions” that the EFF has proposed for various sectors of the economy and schools to reopen is that the government provides a scientific and epidemiological illustration that the spread of the virus has been contained and the curve flattened in South Africa.

The party has also called for guaranteed quality healthcare facilities and systems for all schools, guaranteed social distance spaces, including assembly points and retail food spaces where human contact will be completely prevented and the complete discontinuation of contact sporting activities.

Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the South African Federation of Trade Unions, said that the government had totally discredited its own interventions because it now appeared that the government was now pandering to the whims of big business. 

“Now we’re beginning to see workers dying, even those who are in the public sector and in the front line and are in the coalface are dying and government can’t protect even its own nurses, how much more people who are working at some Iscor or ArcelorMittal or in some plant or metal box anywhere?

“If the government can’t protect its own workers, how much more the workers in the private sector. Workers are starting to die in numbers, are being infected in numbers,” Vavi said.

Political Bureau

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