WC premier Alan Winde calls for fight against 'job loss pandemic'

Western Cape premier Alan Winde says he will petition President Cyril Ramaphosa to allow all businesses that can open safely to do so.
Western Cape premier Alan Winde says he will petition President Cyril Ramaphosa to allow all businesses that can open safely to do so.
Image: Mohau Mofokeng © Sowetan

The lockdown to slow the spread of Covid-19 has allowed for another pandemic to take root — “that of unemployment, hunger and increasing poverty”.

This is according to Western Cape premier Alan Winde on Thursday. He said the provincial cabinet held a bosberaad at the weekend where it heard that losses in income and employment have hit the poorest people the hardest in SA.

It also heard that recent research showed that the percentage of people who have run out of money for food in the past year has likely increased from 25% to 47%.

The provincial cabinet heard that the Nids-Cram survey estimated that three million people in SA lost their jobs during the initial lockdown between February 2020 and April 2020 and that women accounted for two-thirds of that total, though they make up half the workforce.

Winde said these facts came from a detailed report from the Western Cape government’s head of policy and strategy, Dr Hildegarde Fast, on what the pandemic looks like.

“It was a sobering analysis that left the entire room silent.”

Winde said the cabinet also heard that Western Cape expects employment to drop by 8.4% in 2020, and then to only grow by 1.9% in 2021.

“In the Western Cape, our tourism sector is expected to lose 104,504 jobs (60% of the sector) in 2020. “The informal sector is expected to lose 38,276 jobs in the Western Cape (13% of the sector) in 2020,” Winde said.

Winde said the pandemic of unemployment, hunger and increasing poverty has not received the same headlines, and there are no special disaster command councils meeting regularly to address it.

“It is more silent, and its effects likely more long-term to notice. But it will also cost lives in the future if we don’t fight it with the same determination as we have done with Covid-19 to date.”

Winde said he will petition President Cyril Ramaphosa at the president’s co-ordinating council to allow all businesses that can open safely to do so, following clear health guidelines.

“This is the only way we can effectively stop the unemployment pandemic from gaining momentum and claiming lives.”

Winde said the province has decided to decommission the Hospital of Hope at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) field hospital in September.

He said many areas in the province have passed the peak of infections. Winde said the Hospital of Hope, which has a capacity of 864 beds, now has 57 admissions.

He said the province has adequate capacity at the 330-bed Brackengate facility to accommodate patients.

“The last patient date for the CTICC will be August 18, with the aim of closing the facility by mid-September. Patients will start being moved toBrBrackengate facility, which assumes the title of our Hospital of Hope, from tomorrow, August 14.”

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