The C-19 People’s Coalition were in full support of the spirit and demands of South Africa’s national strike on 7 October saying the reasons are indisputable. South Africa, even before the COVID-19 crisis was already becoming poorer with a quarter of the people suffering from extreme poverty and a collective expression of people’s indignation is long overdue.
The coalition says the national strike must be the start of a fight to empower people in their own government to put the people before profits, to end the malaise and revive the world-historic promise of South Africa’s liberation project. They say government presided over one of the highest levels of unemployment and the most unequal society in the world.
“A deep epidemic of corruption has eroded the character of South Africa’s politics, crippled public administrations and enabled annual corporate theft of tens of billions of rands into offshore tax havens. In the context of COVID-19, government has been too slow with solutions and has failed to protect the most vulnerable with the number of households with hunger doubling,” they say.
According to the C-19 People’s Coalition, almost three million people have lost jobs, inequality has risen as job losses overwhelmingly affect the working poor, black people, women and people living in rural areas. They say government’s inadequate relief efforts have descended into a spectacle of state failure and looting which has been left to the people of South Africa to correct.
“We unconditionally endorse the rightful demands of the Congress of South African Trade Unions and South African Federation of Trade Unions and their broad vision of justice. We also mobilize behind the strike on our own terms with our own demands which include an end to corruption and a people-centred public administration,” says the coalition.
The C-19 People’s Coalition say they want the corrupt political class to face consequences and it calls on government to address the root causes of corruption by:
· Appropriately insulating administrative processes from aggressive elite capture;
· Developing systems that make government transparent and participatory;
· Strengthening mechanisms that protect people from political and police thuggery;
· Freeing redistributive processes from the arbitrariness of gatekeeping and patronage.
“We demand capable, people-centred public administrations and want grants to be defended and for South Africa to move to guaranteed income for all. In the context of a growing humanitarian crisis, it is unconscionable that government has not yet committed to continuing the expanded and new grants beyond October,” they say.
The coalition says an attempt to take these grants away will be unacceptable and the country faces a real threat of starvation. They say given the unprecedented unemployment, instead of taking grants away, South Africa must build on these to provide a dignified basic income guarantee (BIG) that is universal, unconditional and redistributive.
“The COVID-19 health crisis has emphasized massive inequalities in the provision of healthcare and we call for a single, national and universal healthcare system for all. It has revealed the gathering health threats posed by backlogs in dealing with infectious diseases such as HIV and TB, in a world of climate crisis. We cannot continue with an inefficient and expensive segregation of private and public healthcare and the morass of provincial public healthcare failure and corruption,” says the coalition.
According to the group, COVID-19 has focused attention on the massive crisis unfolding in the provision of water and sanitation and the coalition want the crisis of water and sanitation to be addressed. They say it is unconscionable that today fewer people have reliable access to water than in 1994 and that the national sanitation system is collapsing.
“Government must move vigorously to root out corruption and must commit to spending urgently and effectively on infrastructure and maintenance. Governments across South Africa have also failed to address the crises of landlessness, housing and food and the coalition calls for land for housing and food production,” says the coalition.
The C-19 People’s Coalition say over-crowded housing conditions and generalised hunger have made social distancing impossible and it is scandalous that governments have pursued removals during the coronavirus. They are demanding that land is made available in well-located spaces and on a mass-scale for housing and food production and the state must leverage all mechanisms available, including releasing its own land and through the mechanism of expropriation.
“COVID-19 is also an early warning of the consequences of the coming climate catastrophe. South Africa needs to shed its status as a carbon-intensive economy and must do so with justice ensuring no worker is left behind. We must center around a sustainable economic recovery on the creation of millions of good, long-term jobs in energy efficiency and socially-owned and controlled renewable energy,” says the coalition.