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Working Class Struggles in the era of Covid-19 – Second Wave
Yesterday, 6 January 2021, South Africa suffered its highest death rate, 844 from CoVID-19, and 21 800 new infections. In this time of deep crisis, the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party sends its deepest condolences to the many families,
comrades and friends who have experienced loss and who have and continue to
suffer the effects of this deadly pandemic.
The rising death toll of the second wave is not just down to a new mutated strain of
the virus but, it is also because South Africans live under the most unequal
capitalist régime, and as a result, have little to no access to decent healthcare,
housing, land, food, water, work conditions and social security.
This pandemic has exposed the deadly weaknesses, challenges and contradictions of
the world capitalist system and its inability to protect life. It is not by accident that the
most ruthless capitalist states are suffering the most from this pandemic: The United
States, India, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. Additionally, twenty of
the most hit countries, are countries that have also demonstrated absolute impotence
in the face of the pandemic, are all capitalist and have extreme social inequalities.
Extremely infectious viral diseases such as COVID-19 and its mutations can
scientifically be stopped from spreading, infecting and killing many people first by
blocking their pathways, by stopping them from invading “hosts” – infecting, in this
case, people. The obvious physical ways to stop this are hand washing, sanitizing,
keeping safe distances between human beings, isolating, quarantining and all other
physical measures that prevent the virus from coming into physical contact with an
un-infected human being.
Then of course there are treatments, not cures; it is extremely difficult to “cure” viral
diseases because all potential “cures” also kill the cells of the host, the patient.
These treatments give our bodies time to overcome the infections.
There is also good nutrition, access to clean air and exercises and generally healthy
lifestyles that are needed as well.
None of these things are freely available to the working class in a capitalist system.
They all cost money which the working class either have very little or none at all.
Housing, particular types of public transport and poverty make it impossible to
prevent the rapid spread of the viral infections – this is why all over the world it is poor
immigrants, and the lower layers of the working class who have suffered the most
from the pandemic. Here in South Africa, it is not surprising to any Communist that
the Eastern and Western parts of the country have the highest death rates and actual
deaths: The Eastern Cape has the highest unemployment (more than 52%) and
poverty rates in the country. The African working-class communities in the Western
Cape house extreme poverty!
Lock downs and all the physical measures (including closing borders, stopping flights
into and out of countries) the capitalist world has implemented have miserably failed
to stop the spread of infections and deaths.
The capitalist system is miserably impotent and incapable of stopping infections and
deaths from the pandemic. Their main concern is for economies to open, at all costs.
This is why their strategic focus is to have countries quickly acquire “herd immunity” –
a situation where 60% to 70% of the population is infected (naturally or through a
vaccine) and develops immunity, and therefore the working class can resume work
and profits can flow again. A very unscientific assumption made here is that “natural
immunity” is possible against Coronavirus. The truth is we do not know. In fact, hard
evidence is available to confirm that people have suffered several bouts of
What then, is to be done? What must the working class do, faced with this situation?
From a scientific point of view, we first must accept that the degree of global
integration that has happened today means no country can be free from a pandemic
alone! Pandemics must be fought and can only be won at a global level. Capitalism
clearly is incapable of ending this pandemic. Just witness the selfish measures – all the
imperialist countries are taking in overbuying the vaccines and leaving behind the rest
of the world. How do they expect global economic value chains to function without
life in the poorer imperialist dominated parts is hard to imagine?
Closing borders against a virus in a “globalised world” cannot work; it takes just one
person with the virus to start a pandemic anywhere. More than at any time, we
Socialists are being reminded that just as you cannot have “Socialism in one country”
it is impossible to eradicate the virus in individual countries without doing it globally.
It is time to be truly international.
Our capitalist nation states will not suddenly commit class suicide and implement measures good for the working class and hurt their profits. A good example for this is South Africa which has simply not repaired hospitals, refused to replace dead health
workers, reneged on an already signed wage agreement with public workers, the
inability to timeously acquire vaccinations and has adopted the cruel method of
blaming and criminalising the working class for the spread and deaths from the
Imagine that because of our political impotence as a class, it is billionaire Ramaphosa
whose government is punishing the working class while lighting a candle for the dead
and health workers!
There is no alternative, while we fight for all the things, we hope our capitalist
governments must do, to swiftly move to create, develop and grow the power of the
working class, using pandemic conducive methods, to overthrow our capitalist
governments. The only cure and true weapon to this and all other pandemics to hit
the world from now onwards is staring us right in the face: it is Socialism! Only
Socialism values life above all else including profits. A clear example of this, is how,
currently, under capitalism, instead of a global rollout of vaccines we are
experiencing the policy of “vaccine nationalism”, where rich countries are scrambling
to stockpile vaccines, rather than developing policies and measures for a People’s
Vaccine. The time is now, and for the sake of all of humanity, that we should demand
a suspension of intellectual property rule and develop a system to create a universal
vaccine for all. As long as we labour under the exploitative conditions of capitalism
this will not be possible. Only Socialism can guarantee that science is free from profits
Of course, we must educate one another about how to prevent and treat infections.
We must care for the sick and mourn the dead, together. One thing must be clear
though: we have entered a period of human history when our fate as a class, and the
fate of humanity and the Earth are in our hands: no amount of pontificating in front
of the capitalist class will save us. Even before the virus is over, they have already
begun to replace us with advanced machines and technologies. The recession is now
a depression. They cannot guarantee our lives, they must be overthrown.
Our Demands, as the Pandemic Worsens!
- It is possible for everyone to access equal treatment for Covid-19, get tested for the
virus for free, and a rational national plan for attending to all non-COVID-19 health
problems can immediately be developed and implemented. To achieve all this, we
demand that all private hospitals and healthcare providers must be nationalized and
managed under one national management system. Combined and expanded on a
continuous basis, under government ownership and control, integrated into one
system, the private and public health resources in this country can guarantee access to health services for every person in this country.
- Health workers throughout the country have made known their plight especially with
- respect to irregular and poor-quality PPE, government unwillingness and failure to
- upgrade health infrastructure and repair clinics and hospitals in time, government
- unwillingness to replace health workers lost due to the pandemic and the many staff
- shortages, and government inhuman reneging on the already agreed wage
- agreement. We demand that through the National Department of Health a fully
- costed, time-line bound plan, with transparent accountability measures to resolve
- these and other challenges is produced and implemented immediately. For this, we
- are ready and willing to lend our muscle to our heroic health workers to secure their
- The government has openly demonstrated its contempt for the lives of the majority
- of the people of this country during this pandemic by, among many other things,
- their lukewarm attitude to the question of vaccines against the virus. We demand a
- transparent, costed, time-bound clear plan of what the vaccines will be, when they
- will be available, how the vaccines will be administered, and when the vaccinations
- will start. Failure to produce this plan will be further proof to us that the government
- is not morally and financially committed to the fight against the pandemic and
- therefore is hoping for natural herd immunity to resolve this deadly human crisis. We
- will treat this as genocide, by the government.
- We have seen an unprecedented number of companies retrenching workers under
- cover of, and purportedly, as a result of the lockdown; and government has not lifted
- a finger to intervene. We demand that the government declare that it is illegal and a
- criminal offense to fire workers during the pandemic, and a moratorium on all
- retrenchments must come into force immediately.
- We demand, urgently, an indefinite moratorium on all evictions, now. This
- moratorium must come into force immediately and it must be a criminal offense for
- any state officials, private sector or individual landlord to order evictions.
- It is clear thus far that the money the government has made available to the banks to
- protect companies and stimulate economic activities has largely benefited banks who
- are insisting on their conservative criteria to access these funds. We demand that
- such funds be managed independent of the banks and key focus must be startups
- and small businesses and those pre-existing companies with significant employment
- The taxi industry transports the bulk of the black and African working class to and
- from work. The current 100% load capacity is a death sentence to passengers and the
- working class in this industry. We demand, urgently and immediately, that the
government must subsidize the entire taxi industry and ensure that it operates within
the health load capacity per vehicle to guarantee safety during this period.
- The infection rates across the country are rising because employers are failing to
adhere to the regulations to create a safe working environment. We demand
absolute compliance with health and safety regulations in the workplace. We demand
regular inspections, stiff penalties for transgressions and criminal sanctions for serial
- Every worker must have access to quality masks and the correct sanitisers. We
demand that employers must make quality masks and sanitisers available in all
workplaces, to all workers.
10.Government must supply regularly, for free, masks and sanitizers to pensioners and
all unemployed people in the country.
11.We demand that government must ensure that the UIF TERS are extended to assist
and support workers and companies who are affected by the government order to
revert back to Level 3.
12.We demand that the government guarantee to everyone, the rights to health
services, food, water, shelter, electricity and the internet, as the pandemic worsens.
Not doing this is condemning to slow painful death millions of workers and their
children in South African, especially those without work.
13.We call on workers, employed and unemployed, young and old and all communities,
to take responsibility to protect all lives. Washing hands, sanitizing, wearing masks at
all times, quarantining when we have come into contact with the infection, isolating
when we have symptoms and observing all health and safety protocols is our
individual and collective responsibility and duty in recognizing our right to life, and
the rights and lives of others.
14.We remain convinced that unless the government and all people in South Africa
commit to protecting and saving lives first, the pandemic will last longer than it
should, kill more people and there will be no economy to talk about, when it is over.
We call upon all the people in South Africa to support these demands. Our destiny is
in our hands. Together we can defeat the virus and win back our lives. We especially
make a special appeal to all the working class in South Africa to join us, as we fight to
get these, and all other demands met; we are ready to join hands with all those
willing to work to secure these and all other working class demands!
Forward to Socialism!
Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party
For more information contact,
Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party
0735880677 or firstname.lastname@example.org