Last week, as the seriousness of the threat posed by Covid-19 dawned on more and more civil society organisations, several bodies met to begin to plan how best to organise a united response to the coronavirus pandemic, one that both prevents new infections and protects human rights.
This included the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), which met over the weekend with other organisations of people living with HIV. In addition, activists met at Khanya College and agreed on the first phase of a mobilisation plan in five regions of Gauteng. They have also produced basic information flyers in English, Sesotho & isiZulu, available at Khanya House.
Maverick Citizen will closely monitor and report on the civil society response and how it advances the national effort. Below we publish a Call to Action made by the Civil Society Coordinating Collective, an informal network of up to 50 organisations based mainly in Gauteng and committed to building a coalition in uniting progressive forces in our struggle for social justice:
Call to Action:
We welcome the clarity provided by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the eve of 15 March 201. We are in agreement that Covid-19 can only be mitigated through joint efforts of civil society, the private sector, government and all people living in South Africa. However, we believe a number of issues need to be reiterated and prioritised.
Call on Civil Society Organisations:
As civil society organisations we realise the need to work collaboratively and prevent the scourge of fear, panic and misinformation to ensure the further spread of Covid-19 is limited. We as individuals and in our work spaces all have a role to play in this to ensure that our own families and communities are educated and made aware of the seriousness of this pandemic.
Civil society organisations represent and provide services for the most marginalised and vulnerable people and communities living in South Africa. It is imperative that we recognise that the spread of disease in its nature is equal and perpetuates injustice and will disproportionately affect the people we most directly work with.
Disease and Covid-19 will impact upon the intersections of all our work towards combating health injustice, prejudice and stigma, homophobia and xenophobia … and will, if not taken seriously, have far-reaching impact on families, communities, and the country as has already been seen in the rest of the globe.
We have a TB and HIV pandemic in South Africa. It is critical that we know our status and take our treatment to ensure we have strong immune systems.
In first acknowledging the detrimental impact Covid-19 could have, we need to do all we can to prevent its further spread in communities.
What can be done:
Call on private sector and business:
As has already been seen, disease will impact us all. We call on the private sector and business to act fast to mitigate and support the prevention of Covid-19. We call for the following:
Call on the state to Act:
As civil society organisations we acknowledge the efforts by the government to keep people informed and up to date on the virus. However, we demand the following:
Disease thrives on inequality, discrimination and prejudice. We need campaigns to stop stigma and fake news, prevent panic; take precautions and don’t fuel prejudice. DM
This call is endorsed by:
Sophiatown Community Psychological Services; Sonke Gender Justice; Just Associates Southern Africa; Lawyers for Human Rights; Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CORMSA).
"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"
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