The Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour, Boitumelo Moloi, says the government is committed to minimising the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on job losses. She was delivering her department’s adjusted budget vote in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

The shutdown of the economy due to the COVID- 19 has resulted in the loss of income by many people. To alleviate the plight of many, the government approved temporary relief payments through the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

Moloi says the government has also taken other measures to preserve job losses.

“The UIF has committed R394 million to finance training for 26 000 people of which 50 % will be women and youth and 5.9 million is committed to financing the interventions of the CCMA to preserve jobs. The fund will support some 600 SMMEs and will improve productivity and preserve more jobs.”

Opposition not pleased with CCMA budget cut

The opposition, however, believes that this is not enough. Democratic Alliance (DA) Member of Parliament, Sonja Boshoff, has criticised the budget cuts to the CCMA.

Boshoff says the CCMA will be crippled as it plays a major role in times like these.

“The CCMA has its budget cut by a whopping R55 million. This body has been doing outstanding work assisting applicants who have been unfairly dismissed. This cut will leave millions of unemployed employees destitute.”

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Member of Parliament, Thembinkosi Apleni, accused the government of failing to protect job losses even before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

“There were no jobs before COVID-19 and there are going to be no jobs after COVID- 19, in the Eastern Cape for instance unemployment is rife and many have lost their jobs.”

Reviving township economy 

Meanwhile, the Minister of Small Businesses, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, has told the NCOP that her department’s focus is on reviving township economy and SMMEs.

She says thousands of spaza shops have been identified throughout the country for support. “The spaza shop support scheme seeks to support 25 000 spazas and general dealers with a budget of R175 million and the department has already been processing more than 9 000 applications.  This programme provides spazas and general dealers with bulk buying facilities.”

African National Congress (ANC) Member of Parliament, Mandla Rayi, seemed to agree. He says COVID 19 has weakened SMMEs.

“COVID-19 has weakened deeper SMMEs hence we emphasise that the government should focus on saving existing production and commercial capabilities of SMMEs and cooperatives.”