President Cyril Ramaphosa says an extraordinary effort will be required from different stakeholders across the country to undo the damage left in the wake of the coronavirus.
Ramaphosa made the remarks on Workers’ Day in his capacity as ANC president.
He was delivering an online lecture on behalf of the ANC Youth League’s national task team, focusing on the relationship of the former liberation movement and organised labour.
Ramaphosa said the relationship between the government and labour, but more so the ANC and trade union federation Cosatu, was vital to the success in fighting the pandemic.
“It requires all South Africans, all social partners, all formations to unite in an extraordinary effort to overcome an unprecedented threat.”
On Friday, the country relaxed some measures imposed by Ramaphosa in a bid to slow down the spread of the virus.
It moved out of a hard lockdown, which had been in place since 26 March, this as its already fragile economy continue to contract due to the shutting down of numerous industries during that period.
Ramaphosa said the pandemic had caused great disruption in the lives of many South Africans, particularly hurting the working class and poor.
His lecture included a detailed history lesson in the evolution of both the labour movement and ANC over the years, which also saw him defending the continued difficult relationship between the party and its alliance partners.
“Some have said the relationship couldn’t continue.”
Ramaphosa said some argued the ANC, because of its relationship with the union federation, could not take particular reforms out of fear of leaving out public service unions, while others have accused Cosatu of failing to take a decisive stance against governance in the interests of its members due to its ties to the governing party.
“There is a clear understanding that Cosatu has a responsibility to advance the material interests of its members in the workplace and more broadly in society.
“Similarly, there is an understanding that the ANC, as the governing party, has a responsibility to advance the interests of all South Africans,” said Ramaphosa.
He added they had developed a political culture to manage their differences and contradictions over the years.