While South Africa has made tremendous progress in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, thanks to the heroic work of our health practitioners, we are not out of the woods yet. The National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers has taken note of the decision taken by cabinet to repeal the Covid-19 regulations. This comes after a letter written by the Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla to the MECs, stating that the country has exited the 5th wave, and therefore there’s no longer a need to continue wearing masks and keeping Covid restrictions in place.

While we welcome the economic impact of such a move, we are cautious because we know just how reckless and negligent our government is. South Africa’s economy could benefit from the complete relaxation of the Covid-19 regulations, particularly the working class. However, given this government’s track record, we cannot trust that this move will not potentially plunge us into a deeper health crisis.

The first point of concern for us is the job security of the Covid-19 contract workers. We know how unscrupulous this government is, particularly the health department.

Early this year, the Gauteng Health Department attempted to get rid of the contract health workers, even though we were still not out of the fifth wave yet and Covid regulations were still very much in place. In addition, the country’s health sector remains understaffed. Part of our concern is that the employer might take advantage of this development and dismiss all workers who were hired to provide support in the fight against the pandemic.

NUPSAW would like to warn the Minister and President Cyril Ramaphosa that if this decision backfires, we reign down hard on them.

We have seen how other countries with higher vaccination rates have battled with waves after wave of the pandemic. A case in point is China, which recently reintroduced the lockdown measures because of the resurgence of the virus in certain regions.

Our main worry is that if this plan fails, health workers are going to bear the brunt.

For media enquiries, contact General Secretary Solly Malema on 082 323 2958 or Media Relations on 078 935 2125