The Thabo Mbeki Foundation has urged the government to “take the lead” and find a way to improve the country’s “socio-economic situation”.
In a May Day message, the foundation paid tribute to health and other essential services workers who selflessly continued at great risk to themselves and their families.
But it expressed concern that the Covid-19 pandemic could worsen SA’s problems.
“We share the concern of the workers, their trade unions and our country as a whole that this virus and Covid-19 should not result in worsening the problems which have been confronting our country for some time, such as poverty, unemployment and inequality,” the foundation said in a statement.
“This means that even as our country continues to grapple with the challenge of defeating the coronavirus and Covid-19, a national consensus must emerge about what we should do about our socio-economic situation in the aftermath of this virus and its disease.
“We, therefore, expect our government to take the lead in this regard. It should put to the country a proposed development programme targeted at ensuring that we create a much healthier socio-economic situation in our country after we have successfully dealt with the challenge of the coronavirus and Covid-19.”
It urged employers and workers to take all the necessary precautions – including respecting the government’s regulations – to protect people from contracting the novel coronavirus.
“The struggle to defeat the coronavirus and Covid-19 has emphasised the critically important lesson that all of us as South Africans, regardless of race, colour, gender, class, religion and ideology, share a common destiny.
“That fact means that, as we did when we adopted our national constitution, we must evolve a national agreement practically to implement a development programme which will produce the transformed SA we have tried to describe.
“As we convey our best wishes to our workers, we express our confidence that our workers and their trade unions will actively participate in the national dialogue to help design the post coronavirus and Covid-19 development programme.”