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South African health workers hold protests and threaten strike

Health workers in South Africa held demonstrations to express their anger and to urge the government to end the corruption related to the procurement of Covid-19 PPE.

Members of The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (NEHAWU) hold placards during a picket outside the Union building, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown regulations ease in Pretoria, South Africa, September 3, 2020. REUTE

South African health workers held protests in Pretoria and Cape Town on Thursday to condemn the poor conditions and limited resources provided for them to do their duty, calling on the government to end the corruption of people taking advantage of the pandemic to make financial profits at the expense of the medical teams' lives.

South African authorities had earlier started investigations over illegal grafts made through Covid-19 related tenders that involved heavyweight government officials. Health workers believe that the struggling conditions they have to work in are resulting from this corruption as these tenders were aimed at purchasing protective equipment to be used by medical personnel.

Thursday's protests were led by the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers’ Union which threatened that its 200,000 workers would go on a strike on 10 September if their issues were not resolved by then.

South Africa has lost 14,300 lives to the pandemic so far including 230 health workers, as the most seriously-hit African country has reported more than 630,000 confirmed cases out of which 27,300 were health workers. Despite the recent decline in new cases reported compared to the early months of the pandemic, a widespread strike by health workers would significantly worsen the situation in the country as the new cases reported are still averaging around 20,000 cases per day.

The demonstrators in Pretoria, the capital, marched in front of the offices of President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings, with some protesters holding signs that read “Thank You Frontline Workers” and “Remove Corrupt Officials.”


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