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The Congress of South African Trade Unions, a key ally of the country’s ruling African National Congress, has attacked the party for everything from delays in securing Covid-19 vaccines to failing to provide income support for workers affected by the pandemic.
In a submission to a meeting of the ANC’s top decision-making body, the National Executive Committee, the 1.8 million-strong labor movement that’s known as Cosatu questioned why the party is failing to implement its own plans. It also challenged the need for a new plan due to be submitted this weekend by the ANC’s Economic Transformation Committee.
“There’s no shortage of policies, nor do we need new plans,” Cosatu said in the submission, dated Jan. 22. “What we need is to honestly and constructively assess their implementation. This is something the government has failed to do.”
Relations between the party and Cosatu have frayed over issues including a decision to freeze the wages of state employees and end an income-relief program for workers who’ve lost pay as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. South Africa’s failure to start a vaccination program when at least 56 countries have done so has further inflamed tensions.
“The consequences of the government failing to roll out the vaccines is the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of workers every single day there’s a delay,” Cosatu said. “Every day that we’re required to remain under lockdown as a consequence is another day where the economy sheds thousands of jobs, hundreds of businesses and billions of rand.”
With over 1.4 million confirmed coronavirus infections and more than 40,000 deaths, South Africa is the continent’s worst-affected country.
The government’s refusal to restart a program giving income support to workers whose businesses have been hit by curbs on alcohol sales and a 9 p.m. curfew drew criticism. The unions also slammed the lending of just 18 billion rand ($1.2 billion) from a 200 billion-rand loan-guarantee program for banks.
With municipal elections due later this year, Cosatu questioned whether its members will vote for the ANC.
“Is the record of the government something that can convince workers in their millions to turn out and return it to office?” it said. “With this track record, how does the ANC expect to win workers’ votes?”
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