Old Mutual's R4bn funeral cover for healthcare workers a PR stunt - EFF

13 April 2020 - 13:28
By Kgothatso Madisa
Financial services provider Old Mutual has be criticised after pledging R4bn to healthcare workers who die from Covid-19.
Image: Supplied Financial services provider Old Mutual has be criticised after pledging R4bn to healthcare workers who die from Covid-19.

The EFF has rejected a R4bn funeral cover by Old Mutual for healthcare workers fighting coronavirus and has labelled it a public relations stunt.

According to the EFF 90% of the cover – which kicked in at the beginning of April and ends in December - would not have been used when it expires in eight months.

The party’s spokesperson Delisile Ngwenya said if Old Mutual was concerned about the well-being of the healthcare workers they would put the R4bn towards measures to prevent their deaths or towards increasing their salaries.

“We must reject the idea of waiting for people to die before helping them,” Ngwenya said in a statement on Monday.

“We should not wait for healthcare workers to die before showing our appreciation for the self-sacrifices they demonstrate to fight the deadly virus. All contributions should aim to prevent them from death itself or show our appreciation to them whilst they are alive.”

This comes after the financial services provider last week announced they were making available a R4bn cover for over 430,000 registered healthcare workers who are at the frontline in the fight against the global pandemic Covid-19 at no cost to them.

Healthcare workers are at a higher risk of contracting the virus and the health department has reported that a number of them have already been infected.

Old Mutual committed to paying out R10,000 to a family of a healthcare worker should death occur.

Ngwenya said the EFF was unimpressed with the pledge as there has been no evidence of high mortality rate of healthcare workers anywhere in the world.

“Even if workers may get sick from contracting Covid-19, the evidence is that most will like recover. Old Mutual’s funeral policy is there(fore) not based on any scientific prediction or possibility that there might be high mortality rate. Thus we should not be planning for the eventuality of mass deaths of healthcare workers.

“At the end of the year, over 90% of that money would not have been spent. If they are genuine and truly want to give R4bn to healthcare workers, they must ask for their bank accounts and deliver the money into their individual accounts with immediate effect,” Ngwenya said.

Old Mutual said they were also pledging towards some of government’s initiatives during this period including R5m towards personal protective equipment, R50m towards addressing immediate educational needs, hygiene awareness and nutritional support as well R40m supporting small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) and service providers.

Old Mutual said that statistics showed globally over 10,000 healthcare workers had died due to coronavirus related infections.

“Whilst we do not anticipate that all 430,000 healthcare workers will die as a result of Covid-19, as an insurer, we have taken a decision to provide adequate cover nonetheless to support them and their families, and without any exclusion to the cause of death,” Old Mutual spokesperson Tabby Tsengiwe.

“During this time, it is important for us to focus our attention and efforts on supporting those who are at the coalface of dealing with this pandemic. As Old Mutual we are playing our role, using the resources that we have as a leading insurer to serve qualifying categories of healthcare workers who support us. They represent our customers, our families, our friends and a critical part of the overall essential services community.”