21 March 2021
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has urged government to use Human Rights Day 2021 to remember prioritising the needs of the most vulnerable sections of South African society including front line health workers, the elderly, women and children in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
FEDUSA’s calls comes in the wake of the events of 2020. Although the year has been a disastrous one for many, it soon became very clear that there were deeply unequal vulnerabilities; in the context of the country’s medical response to the pandemic, job security, gender and accessing basic human rights such as food, water, electricity safe and healthy living conditions.
South Africa was simply not an equal society before the COVID-19 pandemic landed on her shores – with a 0.7 Gini Coefficient according to Statistics South Africa making her one of the most unequal societies in world – nor an equal society in the middle of the pandemic with those living in poverty before March 2020 currently finding it very difficult to comply with the health and safety protocols of regularly washing their hands, sanitizing and keeping safe social distance.
The government can and is in a good position to prosecute politically connected individuals who stole Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) worth millions of Rands because access to PPEs by frontline health workers is a fundamental human right that must be protected and guaranteed by a progressive and democratic government.
The sanctity of life, a key human right enshrined in the Bill of Rights also enjoins the government to roll-out vaccines to the elderly – who are the embodiment of the cultural heritage of the nation and its institutional memory – as matter of urgency.
The pandemic has also escalated gender based violence to the unsavoury status of a shadow pandemic, and government can show that it cares about human rights of women by at least announcing what progress has made, including measures taken to address setbacks on the road to the promulgation of the International Labour Organization C190 Convention which has been designed to fight Gender Based Violence and Harassment in the world of work.
For interviews please contact:
Ms Dorothy Nokuzola Ndhlovu
FEDUSA Vice President: Gender and Social Justice
076 424 8747
Ms Riefdah Ajam
FEDUSA General Secretary
079 696 2625
FEDUSA Media and Research Officer
072 637 8096