President Ramaphosa’s SONA speech was encouraging, more needs to be done – Cosatu

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has congratulated President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government for their decisive interventions in response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in 2020.

President Ramaphosa delivered his annual State of the Nation address (SONA) in Parliament on Thursday.

The Trade Union federation says the President’s SONA speech was encouraging:

[embedded content]

Cosatu’s national spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla says: “We welcome the President’s assent to the Federation’s demand that the UIF’s COVID-19 Temporary Employment Relief Scheme be extended. We also welcome the President’s agreement to its call for the extension of the R350 COVID-19 grant for the long term unemployed.”

“We welcome an update on the progress with regards to securing the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, however, the continued lack of progress and clarity with regards to the time frames, procurement, logistics and other critical details of the vaccine programme remains a major concern.  We cannot afford to end 2021 without having reached 70% population immunity level because the economy cannot sustain periodical shutdowns.”

Pamla added that government needs to do more: “The government needs to undertake a mass public education programme to explain to members of the public why it is important for all persons to vaccinate.  Health care workers are overstretched and need to be reinforced, so we call on the government to continue to fill vacancies in the health sector. Parliament needs to move with speed to pass the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill and the government to roll-out the NHI. COVID-19 has shown why we need a modern healthcare system that is accessible to all.”

Meanwhile, Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) says it agrees with President Cyril Ramaphosa on his four overriding priorities: defeat COVID; accelerate the economic recovery; accelerate economic reform to drive inclusive growth; and fight corruption.

“We applaud the President’s focus on reporting progress rather than making promises. However, much more progress could have been made, including completing the auction of additional spectrum and launching bid window 5 of the renewable energy programme, both of which were promised in last year’s SONA. But with the focus on progress, we are ready to work with government to implement the plans we have all agreed on now.”

BLSA says a clear vaccination plan a with timetable is essential to getting the pandemic under control: “We welcome the President’s specifics regarding procurement but would like more detail on the logistical plans for the rollout. Business is ready to assist. We agree with the President that infrastructure is a critical plank of the economic recovery. However, we are concerned that the reality is continued declines in infrastructure spending across the public sector. State-owned enterprises spend 30% less as a percentage of GDP than five years ago, while general government spending on infrastructure has fallen 18%. So, we do not see the evidence for the large amounts of spending the president has talked of.”

Source: SABC News (