On 1 August 2020, groups of people came from different communities across the Gauteng province. They were in an action of solidarity and gathered at the Gauteng Legislature in Johannesburg. People gathered against the many injustices by the government, especially now during Covid-19, including housing, land, unemployment, poor working conditions etc.
The C-19 People’s Coalition is a national civil society action group in South Africa, which is vast and has more than 400 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Community Security Organisations (CSOs) involved. It is organised by NGOs and CSO, in response to many social ills that afflict society, and many of which were left to proliferate during Covid-19 lockdown.
Responding to issues of housing, a member of the Gauteng Housing Committee (GHC) told the mass of people that, “we know that our public health system has been collapsing for years, our people are defenceless because we don’t have decent housing, our people are defenceless because we don’t have proper health system.” They were raising issues of evictions during Covid-19 lockdown.
The Community Workers Union of South Africa (CWUSA) spoke against labour disputes and unlawful dismissals during Covid-19 pandemic. The #JoziToStellebosch movement which saw students from the universities around Gauteng walk from Johannesburg all the way to Stellenbosch, Western Cape, raising awareness about student and community issues, were also represented at the march. A speaker from the movement addressed the crowd. Another important bloc, the Gauteng Concerned Parents were a social initiative calling on all schools to close down until it is safe to reopen, was also in solidarity
There were slogans chanted which included campaigns carried out by the Extinction Rebellion Gauteng (XR), demanding that the Gauteng government tells the truth, and declare a climate emergency. As the action was staged at Gauteng Legislature, activists had good social distancing observation and there were people frequently sanitising everyone’s hands. All the demonstrators wore face masks. Towards the end of the big demonstration, activists went around the legislature building; “in a uniform fashion and circling the legislature building and making a tie, a strength in unity against a failing government for its people!,” said one of XR Leaders.
There C-19 People’s Coalition sees a need to continue the campaign with organisational burners being showing messages, for so long as the Covid-19 lockdown is concerned. It is on organisations and social movements to hold up the campaign, and to mobilise more people.
The C-19 People’s Coalition proposed a digital ‘Citizens Assembly’ to take place some time in August 2020. This is the next national action, as the campaign is aiming at bringing more people to hold up the morale as the campaign is carrying messages of many who are destitute. The campaign also acknowledged the crisis of gender-based violence as Mzansi is entering August, the Women’s Month.
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