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'Serve the public': Nehawu gives scathing criticism of govt's response to virus

‘It is not about you but about serving the country, ministers must serve the public and not their egos,’ the union said in a statement.

A professional healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) treats a patient in a tent dedicated to the treatment of possible COVID-19 coronavirus patients, while another cleans the ward at the Tshwane District Hospital in Pretoria on 10 July 2020. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) has issued a scathing statement that criticised the African National Congress (ANC), Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu for their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The union has highlighted the plight of healthcare workers, saying there’s been a daily increase in the number of workers infected with the virus.

“The daily increase in numbers of workers getting infected with COVID-19 necessitate an urgent and hands-on approach to save lives of the first line of defence, which is our frontline workers.”

The union said the fight against the virus had moved from communities into healthcare facilities that were under severe pressure amid the virus.

“Nehawu has been at the forefront of pointing out that the fight against the virus is now located in healthcare facilities which are overwhelmed with patients who need medical help with COVID-19 complications. We have constantly underscored the importance of directing efforts to arm frontline workers to deal with the waves of our people who need medical help.”

It further called on Minister Zulu to address their workers' concerns, who have been infected at various facilities.

“The minister of social development. if she cares about the our members and workers who are getting infected on a daily basis at the Department of Social Development, South Africa Social Security Services, old age homes, places of safety, she will make time to listen to our concerns and suggestions which will go a long way in saving the lives of many. It is up to her to meet with us.”

Nehawu has also warned the ANC that “workers patience is running thin,” warning that they may explore other options during the next elections.

“In this regard, we call on the ANC to caution its deployees to government that workers patience is running thin and must not to take their support for granted as they might explore other options come next elections.”

The union has, however, welcomed government's response to urgently deal with the lack personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as the ANC's response to PPE corruption in Gauteng.

The statement came as South Africa’s COVID-19 cases surpassed half a million. President Cyril Ramaphosa has since released a statement and called on South Africans to remain vigilant.

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