Statement on the ACDP’s support for the phased reopening of schools

The ACDP has welcomed the fact that the Department of Basic Education (DBE), together with the Minister, Ms Angie Motshekga, have taken a phased approach (meaning that it will be incremental) to implement plans to reopen schools.

The reopening of schools will be done based on assessment, school by school, on their individual readiness. This will also be done in consultation with stakeholders – of which parents, teachers, and SGB’s, are the most important.

The ACDP further notes Minister Motshekga’s commitment that a school will only be opened if it meets all the individual readiness requirements. The ACDP will continue to perform in its role as public representatives to hold the DBE to account in that regard. We will be monitoring and reporting on the readiness of schools or the lack thereof. We will also engage with the DBE and bring to their attention where there are not satisfactory health and safety measures in place at schools (those which are opened from June).

The ACDP’S support for the phased reopening of schools is realistically based on the following facts:
· Schools provide protection and food security to children in our most vulnerable communities.

· More parents, who do not have the support available to them to have their children cared for, will be returning to work from June (considering that the easing of the lockdown to alert-level 3 will presumably take effect on 1 June 2020).

We wish to highlight that Minister Motshekga yesterday recognised the right of parents to home-school their children should they not deem it safe for them to return to school at this time. The ACDP encourages parents to utilise this right in choosing what is best for their children. We have consistently – over the years – called for the rights of parents to be recognised by the DBE when deciding how to best educate our children.

We, however, must note that not all South Africans have the option to home-school their children. The safety and wellbeing of our children is paramount in everything that we do. It is in this regard that we welcome the phased reopening of schools.

Covid-19 requires our faith and courage in the uncertain, unchartered territory. The landscape will be changing and challenging – our resolve will be tested. We ask for your prayer for the nation, and we also ask that you continue to engage with us.

We are aware that the systems globally are being shaken, and that from it will emerge a new way of doing things. We also firmly believe that the new will emerge through creative and active engagement.

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ACDP CALLS ON GOVT TO RETAIN NURSES BY PROVIDING THEM WITH OPPORTUNITIES

ACDP CALLS ON GOVT TO RETAIN NURSES BY PROVIDING THEM WITH OPPORTUNITIES

Today, 12 May 2020, the world celebrates International Day of Nurses.

The purpose of this day is to celebrate the achievements and continued sacrifice and contributions of great men and women – the unsung heroes in our medical fraternity.

The appreciation for the role that nurse’s play is not always as forthcoming as it is in the case with medical doctors. However, our nurses are central to the wellbeing of our people, and contribute immensely in building strong and healthy communities in all of South Africa.

A prosperous nation puts the advancement of core medical staff, such as nurses, at the forefront of its development programmes. This pandemic has shown that it is imperative that we make strides to retain our nurses. We can do so if we pay them properly, and also afford them access to free education opportunities that would allow them to advance their skills and careers.

The ACDP is disappointed that many capable and hardworking nurses that work in our government healthcare facilities, who are employed by agencies, have had their contracts suspended, and are sitting at home as a result of the lockdown. This, while government has forked out some R400 million to import Cuban doctors. Where government can, it must seek to permanently employ these nurses. R400m would have gone a long way in permanently employing South African nurses and doctors who have the necessary qualifications and experience but are unemployed.

Even with the arrival of the Cuban health workers, nurses who are permanently employed by government are not coping with the added pressure this health pandemic has brought to our shores. This is a gap that could have been filled by permanently employing nurses, who are in the employ of agencies, who work in government healthcare facilities on a contractual basis.

The ACDP salutes our unsung heroes: the men and women who keep things going under the most difficult circumstances. We also extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of those courageous health workers who have battled on the frontlines throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and who sadly contracted the virus and have fallen while saving lives.

Here’s to the front-liners who keep marching forward!

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ACDP calls for immediate lifting of lockdown restrictions*

ACDP calls for immediate lifting of lockdown restrictions*

The African Christian Democratic Party calls for the immediate lifting of the lockdown restrictions on all sectors of our economy, while ensuring that strict hygiene conditions are in place.

We are of the view that the South African economy is facing one of its worst storms ever. Prior to taking the reins from his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, it was President Cyril Ramaphosa himself, who lamented over the nine wasted years under the presidency of Zuma. The estimates are that those wasted years have cost the South African economy in excess of R1 trillion. Put into perspective, that is some 20% of our GDP and about 70% of our National Budget.

Many dreamed of a New Dawn, which until now has failed to materialize. Our unemployment rate is among the highest in the world, and we have the unenviable title of being the most unequal nation in the world, with a Gini coefficient in excess of 0.6, and rating agencies having downgraded our economy to junk status. It must be said that under the ruling party, poverty, inequality and unemployment have continued to grow.

The wounds inflicted on our economy up until this stage was self-inflicted, where megalomaniacs plundered, raped and pillaged our fiscus with impunity. Now, to add insult to injury we have been inflicted with a Covid-19 pandemic that has brought the global economy to a virtual standstill.

Economists predict that our economy could shrink by between 5-10%, our debt to GDP could grow from 60% to 80% in 2020, and the 6% deficit on our National Budget is set to increase to 12% of GDP. Additionally, a further 1 million workers could be added to the ranks of the unemployed, taking our unemployment rate of 38%, on the expanded definition, to beyond 50% after lockdown. Furthermore, the South African Employers Association indicated that of the businesses surveyed in South Africa, 68% said they would survive a 3 week lockdown but only 28% said they would survive beyond one month.

The ACDP believes that it is time to unlock our economy and remove the onerous restrictions imposed on it. According to South African actuaries, if the lockdown is not removed soon, the mortality rate as a consequence of unemployment, malnutrition and hunger, will be 29 times worse than Covid-19 itself.

The ACDP is on record for saying, as early as 13 April 2020, that if due attention is not given to our economy the consequences will make the Covid-19 pandemic look like a Sunday picnic. Hence, we now call for the immediate lifting of restrictions on all sectors of the economy, while simultaneously calling for these sectors to adhere to strict health protocols, to limit the spread of Covid-19.

The ACDP believes that our focus should be to protect those that are most vulnerable to Covid-19 such as the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, while applying a zonal or area-specific approach to restrictions, rather than mutilating our entire economy.

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