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SACP wants govt to assist the poor, unemployed and working class during coronavirus lockdown

Alex Mashilo. File Picture.

Alex Mashilo. File Picture.

Published Mar 26, 2020


Durban - AS the government-mandated 21-day countrywide lockdown commenced at midnight, the South African Communist Party (SACP) listed a string of measures that it wants the government to implement to assist the unemployed, poor and lower sections of the middle class during the shutdown. 

The party said that although it welcomed the interventions that had been made by the government, it wanted a set of measures directly aimed at assisting the vulnerable.

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Amongst some of the interventions, the SACP called for food security for the unemployed, with a particular focus on rural areas, informal settlements and townships. In addition it wanted emergency income security measures covering the unemployed, coupled with measures to ensure that employers continue to pay employed workers their wages.

The party’s spokesperson Alex Mashilo also said that another key measure that the government should put in place was the mobilisation of more funds for the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

Mashilo also called for the repurposing of the fund “to provide adequate support and offset any income loss occasioned by Covid-19 related production downtime or by future production downtime, short time or temporary layoff caused by a natural disaster, systemic, structural or cyclical economic crisis”.  

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“The measures should also include a temporary freeze on payments for mortgage bonds or home loans, cars and other loans. 

“They should also include further monetary policy easing by the South African Reserve Bank, targeted particularly at transmission channels that will provide direct financial support to worker and community co-operatives, small, medium and micro enterprises, based on the national imperative to build domestic productive capacity directly linked with employment creation and decent work,”  said Mashilo.

The SACP also called for a moratorium on retrenchment and the consistent supply of clean drinking water to all areas, especially rural areas, informal settlements and townships.

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Mashilo said that strict management of cross-border capital flows should also be instituted which would allow for tighter capital account management, to protect the value of the Rand and for the government to deal decisively with and stop illicit capital flows while fostering investment in the productive sector of the economy.

He added that all Covid-19 related procurement should be forensically audited to give no quarter to irregularity and corruption and called for severe lawful punishment of any act of irregularity and corruption to be meted in defence of public resources. 

“It is important to note that venal elements and the corrupt see the declaration of the national state of disaster as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to profiteer, enrich themselves and their parasitic networks through the exploitation of state procurement and looting of public resources,” Mashilo said.

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He said that these interventions were important against the background of the fact that South Africa was in the midst of a macro-economic crisis involving an unemployment rate directly affecting “a massive population of approximately 1.4 million active and discouraged work-seekers”. 

“High rates of inequality and entrenched poverty, affecting millions of the unemployed and working poor, remain persistent. Moreover, venality and corruption must be fought relentlessly on all fronts, including in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic,” Mashilo said.

Political Bureau

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