NEWS & ANALYSIS

Closure of schools for just 4 weeks a PR stunt - EFF

Fighters say nothing suggests that upward curve in infection would have flattened before then

EFF RESPONSE ON SCHOOL CLOSURES AND MEASURES TAKEN TO COMBAT CORRUPTION RELATING TO COVID-19 RELIEF FUNDS

Friday, 24 July 2020

The Economic Freedom Fighters notes the long overdue closure of schools in the midst of the spread of the deadly Corona Virus. It is nothing but a PR stunt to close schools for a mere three weeks as no scientific modelling suggests the upward curve of infections will have flattened and that it will be safe for learners to return.

It is also extremely disappointing and reveals incompetence that Ramaphosa insists on an exhibition of a rapid rise of infections and the loss of life before he takes logical decisions and protects human life. His lack of foresight and decisive leadership will continue to result in pain and mass deaths while he and his cronies continue to profit off a global pandemic.

As of 23 July 2020, there are 408 052 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in South Africa and 5940 deaths. These statistics are not an accident of history or solely due to the natural spread of the virus; rather, there has been deliberate mismanagement of the pandemic and a leadership collective that has pledged its allegiance to profit over human life.

In his address, Ramaphosa boasts about a low-mortality rate compared to other nations with high infections rates of COVID-19. We take this opportunity to warn Ramaphosa once again, as we have throughout this pandemic not to be too confident around the mortality rate statistics. The South African Medical Research Council has reported an incredible 59% increase in mortalities recorded as natural deaths in South Africa during this period, a substantial increase compared to historical data. This has led scientists to believe that there is an inaccurate recording of COVID-19 related deaths in the country and effectively under-recording of COVID-19 deaths. This is not difficult to believe considering the recording and reporting of COVID-19 data is being handled by politicians, who will manipulate data to suit their narratives.

We have seen the consequences of this in the fake celebration of a slow infection rate in the Western Cape, while we all know that the Western Cape no longer conducts mass testing for people below the age of 55.

The closure of schools is long overdue, and the experiment with the lives of children and teachers is something the EFF has long condemned. It is painful that children were sacrificed to this virus and subjected to the cruelty of inadequate PPE's and poor infrastructure. To send children to schools during a deadly pandemic was homicidal and to subject them to sanitisers with low-alcohol content and lack of masks is tantamount to murder.

The distribution of inadequate PPE's to health workers and learners, for the purposes of corruption, must be condemned as a human rights violation. It is an unforgivable act that has resulted in the loss of life of frontline soldiers and jeopardising of the lives of children.

We reiterate that the reopening of schools must not be based on the assumptive gut-feelings of compromised experts like Dr Salim Abdool Karim or political deliberations by the likes of Angie Motshekga. Independent scientific and epidemiological evidence must inform the reopening of schools, and this must be guided by advice from the World Health Organization (WHO). We will, therefore, monitor the behavioural patterns of the virus over the next few weeks, and current evidence does not suggest there will be a significant decrease in infections or deaths.

We further reject the IMF loan as part of the continued compromising of the sovereignty of our economy. We cannot seek to sustain a nation through the accruing of debt. It is an unnecessary surrender to being-colonial powers, as South Africa's debt to GDP ratio is still very low compared to other countries, meaning the state can still survive through increased spending.


Ramaphosa has said nothing on the rampant corruption that has characterised the handling of COVID-19 relief funds. As a President who has himself sealed records in court to hide his funders who effectively bought him the Presidency while he was Deputy President,

Ramaphosa should have known that there will be mass looting of funds during this pandemic by those within his ranks. In fact, his very own spokesperson Khusela Diko is embroiled in suspicious tenderpreneuring, with the Gauteng Health Department giving an inflated tender to her husband for Personal Protective Equipment. Comradeship in the ANC is defined by protecting each other from investigation of corruption, and the Commander in Chief warned Ramaphosa to refrain his public servants from looting during a time of a human crisis.

Corruption is institutionalised in the ANC-led government, and Ramaphosa's Chief lieutenant Pravin Gordhan has declared that not all corruption is criminal. We, therefore, expect very little to be done by Ramaphosa regarding corruption during this time as a man who has been complicit in the misuse of state-funds in all his time in public service.

There is no R500 billion that the people will see, the most concrete commitment made to us all has been the graves that have been secured for all even before people die.

The compilation of law enforcement agencies such as SARS, the Hawks, IPID have not dealt decisively with corruption in the past and have been used as political tools rather as measures to hold government officials accountable. The SIU The SIU, in particular, has no prosecutorial powers and only handles the recovering of misappropriated funds. It has never in its history however led to the arrest of corrupt individuals in all of its operations, particularly prominent politicians.

The simple fact is that the ANC-led government has lost the fight against COVID-19.

The EFF, therefore, calls for an immediate independent scientific review of COVID-19 figures. No politician must assume the role of health statistician as figures are being manipulated by Zweli Mkhize and the Western Cape government to give the impression that the South African government is doing a better job than the rest of the world.

Furthermore, we maintain that the only solution to curbing the rapid spread of COVID-19 is a return to level-5 of the lockdown for three months. This must be accompanied by relevant payments holidays and economic relief that ensures there is food security.

The EFF will continue to expose the corruption being done in State-Owned Enterprises, in the public sector and irregular procurement process that characterises this COVID-19 pandemic. More so. South African society, trade unions and communities must continue to speak in defence of the lives of children and demand a closure of schools that is substantive and based on science, not a PR stunt. Schooling must be rolled out through digital platforms so as not to disadvantage the poor further.

Ramaphosa cannot be trusted with logical decision making and fighting corruption, and he exhibits this consistently. None of the posturing's he does in his glorified family meetings will do anything to change this reality.

Statement issued by the EFF, 24 July 2020