EFF slams relaxation of lockdown regulations on mines, ports and call centres

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The EFF has slammed the opening up of certain sectors by government in its attempt to gradually phase out lockdown regulations, accusing the state of conceding to capital at the expense of the safety of the country's people.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Thursday announced several amendments to the lockdown regulations. The amendments allow for a relaxation of the lockdown rules for parts of the mining and ICT sectors.

She also said retail call centre agents could now go back to work. 

Dlamini-Zuma announced that ports would be opened to export goods. Mines would be allowed to operate at 50%, she said, as long as miners were provided with sanitisers, and quarantine sites were set up in the event of any employees testing positive for Covid-19.

Responding to Thursday's developments, the EFF said relaxing the regulations without showing the public any scientific research to support the move was an indication that it was being done purely to allow greedy companies to maximise profits.

"The idea that mines must operate at 50% production to avoid seismic shifts is not only ridiculous, but lacks evidence. There is absolutely no truth in the assumption that, if mines do not operate at 50% production they will experience rockfall and collapse. Mines collapse at 100% operation, causing catastrophic rockfalls that have claimed hundreds of poor mine workers’ lives," EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo said in a statement. 

The party also called into question the reopening of call centres, saying that the government's explanation was "ridiculous". 

'Condemning people to mass slaughter'

"The final regulation which has no logic relates to goods that are already at different ports for exportation. The ministers argue that to avoid 'congestion' these goods must be allowed to be exported so that, when the economy resumes production, there is no congestion in the ports. This is a weak justification for business to continue as normal at the ports. In fact, there is reason to believe that alcohol which is already in the ports will not leave the country through this regulation." 

The party added that the opening up of large-scale industries like mines, call centres and ports - where it is impossible to work without close human contact - was condemning people to mass slaughter.

READ | Lockdown will be phased out gradually – Dlamini-Zuma

"[The] majority of these workers being asked to report for duty are black, they come from communities without adequate healthcare, meaning with no testing facilities at all." 

Two provinces have recorded their first coronavirus deaths, as the number of fatalities across the country increased by 14 on Wednesday to 48, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed on Thursday.

The Eastern Cape now has four deaths, while one death in Limpopo was as a result of Covid-19, the latest numbers from the health ministry showed.

A total of 95 060 tests have been conducted, with 2 605 people confirmed to have contracted the virus.

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