- The People's Dialogue leader Herman Mashaba has penned an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa
- Offering credit where it's due, Mashaba commended Ramaphosa for his leadership amid the Covid-19 crisis
- However, Mashaba listed some strong demands and encouraged South Africans to co-sign the letter
Herman Mashaba has voiced his concerns over the continued Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa.
In an open letter addressed to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Mashaba started off by offering the president credit for the work done so far in leading the nation during this crisis.
"I think your leadership on the health response of our country to Covid-19 has been commendable. Your leadership through this crisis has been a comfort to many South Africans who are rightly scared."
With SARS indicating that the revenue gap for this year is set to stand at around R285 billion, Mashaba warns that gap will only widen.
Cabinet, according to Mashaba, has failed to inspire hope in South Africans during the pandemic.
"While South Africans have found a measure of comfort in your leadership, we find no such comfort in the leadership of the rest of your cabinet or collective decision making. Your cabinet and National Command Council are exactly that, yours.
"Your cabinet does not offer hope, but rather offers fear to South Africans through their arbitrary and irrational decision making while the lives and livelihoods of South Africans are on the line."
Briefly.co.za explores Mashaba's demands below.
1. Ease lockdown regulations on businesses
The easing of lockdown regulations must be done by asking which businesses we cannot allow back to work, rather than which we can. Put in place the strongest preventative and detection measures, close businesses where there is non-compliance, but let people work. Evidence around the world reveals that over 96% of Covid-19 fatalities arise from comorbidities, so keep these people at home along with the aged – this will address your cabinet issues.
2. Reform the Finances of our Country
It is as clear as day that we cannot continue with a national budget of excess. Hundreds of billions could be freed up by cutting your cabinet, reducing the public service wage bill and losing state-owned entities that are running at a loss. These funds could be steered towards social relief, economic stimulation and tax breaks.
3. Relax Draconian Labour Laws
It is time to relax our rigid labour laws. These laws have served to protect the employed at the expense of the unemployed for many years. Now that the majority of South Africans will be without work in the coming months, let’s make it easier for businesses to hire them.
4. Help Small Businesses
We have solicited the views of small business owners over the past two weeks. Their messages are enough to induce tears. White and black, they are crying for support for their workers and their families. Put in place real support measures, get them back to work and forget about racial criteria for their support. As someone who started a small business out of the boot of my car under the fist of PW Botha, I know what it means to succeed against the odds of government. We are a democracy now; we must support rather than destroy small businesses.
5. Put South Africans First
In an age of a viral pandemic, and a country that is facing huge struggles, it is time to put South Africans first. The flow of illegal immigration to South Africa must be stopped. People in our country illegally must be deported and those here legally must be documented. We need to ensure that every resource in our country goes to South Africans who will need it.
It should be seen as criminal to have a South African doctor at home, while our government spends nearly R500 million on importing Cuban doctors. Please, put South Africans first!
6. Declare Corruption Public Enemy Number 1
Corruption has plagued our country for decades. You have not lived up to your promise to combat it beyond words and rhetoric. We can’t do anything about that but act decisively now. There are people in your party who view crisis as opportunity. They did so when Nelson Mandela passed away and they looted while we grieved. While we are burying our loved ones from Covid-19, they too will see the billions allocated to social relief as theirs to loot. Appoint a forensic panel to trace all expenditure and catch the corrupt, hand them over to a special unit in the NPA and jail them.
7. Simplify Social Grants
While facing a pandemic that has high mortality amongst the elderly, we cannot have the saga we have seen this week with social grants. In the year 2020, very few people should need to queue for a social grant when it can be deposited onto their SASSA cards. This is even more important with the additional relief measures you have correctly brought it for unemployed persons.
In conclusion, Mashaba urged South Africans who agreed with his vision to co-sign the letter, adding that.
"Mr President, the country is looking for you to lead. People who voted for you and those who did not need you to lead them out of this crisis. Put aside the voices of lunacy and senility in your cabinet and do what we both know needs to be done to save our country. Adapting the words of the famous poet Dante I leave you with this – the hottest places in hell are reserved for leaders who, in times of great crisis, serve their parties and not their people."