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The Congress of South African Trade Unions is deeply bothered by the timid and indifferent Cabinet statement that has failed to address some of the most critical issues bedeviling the nation.
The problem of load-shedding has left the economy bleeding and communities uncertain, and it is disappointing that the Cabinet has failed to offer leadership on this urgent and critical issue.
While the renewable energy option offers a long-term solution, the nation needs serious political leadership on what needs to be done short-term to fix the energy crisis, in particular, bringing onboard new generation capacity and ramping up maintenance.
The price of fuel has been rising exponentially and the cabinet has said nothing about its impact on the economy and did not offer any possible solutions.
The fuel price increases, and the ongoing load shedding have created more hardship for the working class that is already suffering from high levels of unemployment and stagnant or declining real wages. The government needs to release the long-delayed research into the fuel price regime. Ever-increasing fuel prices to bail out a bankrupt RAF is suffocating the economy.
The federation is also disappointed by the cabinet’s failure to properly address the issue of rising crime in South Africa. Millions of South Africans feel unsafe and if this is not properly addressed, we are likely to experience a spike in vigilantism.
It is also ludicrous that the Cabinet has uncaringly welcomed and endorsed an austerity-centred Medium Term Budget Policy Statement that has led to the shortage of police personnel. The hardworking mam and women of the SAPS and other law enforcement agencies are poorly equipped because of poor funding.
There is very little attention that is being paid to the problem of corruption by those in the cabinet. South Africa is sinking under the weight of corruption and the fact that the nation’s highest leadership has nothing to say about this problem is deeply disappointing. The cut in nearly 6 000 SAPS personnel needs to be reversed and the promised employment of an additional 7 000 SAPS officers must be expedited.
Metro Rail and Transnet, which are critical to ensuring that workers and goods reach their destinations on time and safely, are limping. Many SOEs and Municipalities are in ICU, and yet Cabinet is silent.
The economy is in its deepest recession in one hundred years, unemployment is rising and has reached an all-time high of 44%. The economic reconstruction and recovery plan is a year old and there is no update on it. The Cabinet did not indicate any interventions to turn the economy around.
The vaccine rollout programme is hobbled by decreasing demand levels and again, Cabinet said nothing about what will be done to ramp up demand. Ensuring everyone is vaccinated is critical to saving lives and livelihoods. The cabinet needed to show leadership when the nation is battling many existential crises.
South Africans keep hoping against all hope that their political leaders will prove that they care and that they know what they are doing. Sadly, this cabinet statement has dashed their hopes and showed that those entrusted with leadership are out of touch with the plight of the majority of South Africans.
Issued by COSATU