The Public Service Commission (PSC) says the COVID-19 pandemic and recent violence witnessed in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng should be seized as an opportunity to review and strengthen the country’s systems.
“These challenges have tested our State, particularly the public service’s ability to anticipate and respond to disasters,” the PSC said in a statement.
After 15 months of enduring the effects of COVID-19, which has left South Africa in the top 10 global list of countries worst affected by the pandemic, the country has in the past two weeks experienced unprecedented levels of unrest and destruction of property, coupled with violence and looting.
The Commission said these acts of violence, which started in KwaZulu–Natal and spread to parts of Gauteng, have a socio-economic ripple effect throughout the country.
“The cyberattack that has paralysed some of Transnet’s critical logistics is also noted as another compounding factor in the midst of these challenges.
“The PSC witnessed with shock and regret as the violence took place amidst the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the middle of government’s vaccination programme that desperately seeks to mitigate the pandemic and save lives.
“While we commend communities organising to protect properties from destruction, we condemn, in the strongest terms, acts of vigilantism that targeted innocent people and even killing some. The reported incidents in Phoenix and Chatsworth, which led to the killing of people, are a matter of grave concern that needs urgent intervention and justice.
“We send our sincere condolences to families that have lost their loved ones and wish a speedy and full recovery to those who were injured,” the Commission said.
The Commission commended South Africans who, in the midst of the crisis, stood up and ensured that violence did not spread to other provinces and the rest of the country.
“COVID-19 and the recent violent lootings underscore the need to urgently address the underlying deep structural challenges of inequality, poverty and food insecurity, youth unemployment as well as the cancer of corruption.
“The convergence of the ‘virus and violence’ has laid bare the urgent need to decisively address South African problems of corruption, poverty, unemployment and inequality,” the Commission said.
A capable State would require, among others, a demonstration of strong leadership as well as strong and coherent institutions in a time of crises, the PSC said.
With the implementation of rotational working arrangements aimed at saving lives, the Commission raised concern where services have been negatively impacted.
“A simple example is telephone calls in some government institutions that are not answered, despite the modern technology of attending to such remotely, thus compromising the delivery of services.
“COVID-19 requires a complete rethink in the way we work and relate across the board,” the Commission said. – SAnews