The President, receiving his full salary, and enjoying normal benefits during the national Covid-19 predicament, on 27 June 2021, made an announcement which resulted in the suspension of economic activities, denying many South Africans the ability to earn a living.
“These decisions are made by bureaucrats and politicians who do not forfeit a single benefit through the imposition of these measures. One can only wonder what anti-Covid measures would have looked like if the pockets of Government officials had been directly affected.”
While the President, and his National Coronavirus Command Council, obviously believe that they have the legislative authority to prohibit people from working, the question remains whether they have the moral authority to do so.
People perish as a result of the virus, but they also perish as a result of hunger and malnutrition, in this instance, caused by not being permitted to earn a living. Does the government regard the one worse than the other?
If an employer or an employee could ask the President how he/she is supposed to survive, in the absence of the right to work and therefore earn a living in order to sustain themselves and their families, how will the President respond?
If the President does not have a sensible answer, and of course there is no answer to that question, then he cannot morally justify denying a person the right to work and earn a living.
Doing so can never be justified!
Gerhard Papenfus is the Chief Executive of the National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA).