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Statement on the Virtual Cabinet Meeting of Wednesday, 1 September 2021

A. Issues in the Environment

1. Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) vaccine roll-out 1.1. Cabinet was apprised by the Department of Health on the progress of the Vaccination Roll-out Programme, which included epidemiology (the branch of medicine which deals with the incidence, distribution and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health) and surveillance. Cabinet noted the decline in new infections, as well as hospital admissions and reported death cases. 

1.2. Cabinet however noted the increase in infection reproduction rates. The Department of Health assured Cabinet that more work is being done to understand and contain the reported school cluster outbreaks, particularly in the Eastern Cape. 

1.3. Meanwhile, Cabinet appeals to parents, learners and school governing bodies to ensure strict adherence to the wearing of masks, ventilation, social distancing and handwashing hygiene. Strict adherence to non-pharmaceutical health protocols remains the most effective defence against the spread of the virus. 

1.4. By 31 August 2021, more than 12 568 525 doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered across the country. The increased number of vaccination sites, and extended vaccination days and the provision of free transport by provinces, will result in a significant increase in the number of people who will be fully vaccinated. 

1.5. Cabinet encourages unvaccinated people in our country, especially adults and those at high risk of developing severe illness, to vaccinate as quickly as possible. 

1.6. Vaccines hold good benefits for our health as they prevent serious illness, hospitalisation and death. Let us fight the virus together by spreading verified information about vaccines provided by the Department of Health and the World Health Organisation. 

2. Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) 2.1. The recent QLFS results released by Statistics South Africa for the second quarter of 2021 showed that the unemployment rate increased by 1.8 percentage points from the 32.6% recorded in the first quarter of 2021 to 34.4% in the second quarter. 

2.2. These poor results continue to bring to the fore the urgency for all sectors working with government to expedite the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) to deal with the devastating effects of COVID-19. The ERRP is at the heart of government’s efforts to rebuild and transform the economy so as to create more jobs, especially for young people. 

2.3. Cabinet is encouraged by some of the sectors such as construction, trade and transport that have created new jobs during the period under review. A social compact to rebuild and transform our economy as part of shared responsibility will ensure we recover quickly as a country. 

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