Today, 12 September 2021 marks 44 years since Steve Biko was brutally killed by the apartheid government. 44 years later, justice for Biko’s death has not been achieved because those in power decided to play “morabaraba” instead of holding the killers and their commanders accountable. This is a reminder that our freedom was not free – we achieved it because others paid the ultimate price through their lives so that we can be free.
The death and the injustice to Biko is a reminder that sometimes, we must fight to see justice being done. We are faced with the invisible, resilient and ever-changing enemy that COVID-19 has become. Just like apartheid, COVID-19 is vicious, sophisticated and it is ready for the long haul in this fight. It has multiple dimensions in that its impact is social, economical and political and felt by the black majority as the numbers of those who have been infected, those who are infected currently and those who have died (may their souls rest in eternal peace) are black South Africans.
As the Community Constituency Front (CCF) we remain committed to contribute to the fight against COVID-19 through our social and behavioural efforts of reminding communities about compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions and promotion of the importance of being vaccinated.
Whilst we understand the spice against vaccines by some in society, we have decided to listen and respond in winning them over to vaccinate voluntarily. Vaccines are the only arsenal we have in waging a war against COVID-19. Like the war waged against apartheid by Biko, Oliver Tambo, Robert Sobukwe, Winnie Mandela and others in their time, where raising consciousness to ensure understanding of issues to fight the system, we too are waging a just war to win the hearts and minds of our people to understand and embrace vaccines as the weapon at our disposal to win the fight against COVID-19. We can’t afford to get to a stage of mandatory vaccination as this will be akin to the pass laws that the apartheid regime introduced. Our singular aim is to ensure we move at one as a nation to triumph against COVID-19.
We as the CCF, led by the Community Constituency in NEDLAC, we are part of the social partners who have advocated for the introduction of measures that will bring hope and relief to the sport, creative industry and tourism sector through introduction of measures for opening up of those spaces as part of ensuring economic activity. Our calls is premised on ensuring that we save lives and we save livelihoods. However, should the opening up results in unintended consequences, we have made it clear that lives must always be saved because livelihoods can be recreated but perished lives cannot be returned. We look forward to hearing measures to be put in place to open economic activity in the sport, creative and tourism industry with the introduction of a vaccine certificate. Such a certificate must not be another form of apartheid where race, class and gender will be used to discriminate. Any introduction of approaches that will show spots of apartheid will be met with our collective wrath. We will not entertain the re-introduction of apartheid in a sophisticated way in whatever form.
We are at war. We must work together as disciplined army to win this war. We need each other because COVID-19 has demonstrated to us that it doesn’t play, it means business.
We are ready to continue to engage robustly, consistently and change our approach depending on the materials conditions that COVID-19 send our way.
President Ramaphosa and your Cabinet, as guided by the inputs from the social partners in NEDLAC through inputs we made via the NCCC, we will be waiting to hear if you heard us when you announce the measures today.
Issued by the Community Constituency Front (CCF)
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The Community Constituency Covid-19 Front was established in March 2020 as a formal advisory body to facilitate the participation of civil society sectors and networks, including those represented in the national response and implementations of Community-Based Measures in response to the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). The Community Constituency Covid-19 Front promotes an inclusive, competent and responsive civil society that effectively serves the needs of communities by linking and diversifying civil society actors, expanding the sector’s response and ensuring better coordination, thus improving operations, and enhancing connections between civil society organisations with government, business labour, their stakeholders and beneficiaries. The Covid-19 Front aims to provide a hub of information and contacts for distribution and engagement through our members across the country.