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4 September 2020

Issued on behalf of C19 People’s Coalition: Cash Transfers subgroup. The #PayTheGrants campaign is an initiative of the C19 People’s Coalition.

We, the undersigned organisations, call on the public to demonstrate their anger against Covid-19 corruption by donning an orange mask every Friday.

The colour is symbolic of the orange overalls which Covid-19 looters should be wearing – in prison.

The #OrangeMaskFridays campaign forms part of a broad societal effort to stop C19 corruption. The campaign is being driven by civil society organisations in response to widespread reports of looting of funds meant to address the impact of the coronavirus.

It has been initiated by the Active Citizens Movement, and has enjoyed rolling success over three successive Fridays, with organisations and activists joining in and demonstrating by wearing orange masks and displaying placards with anti-corruption messages.

We urge organisations across all sectors, communities and individuals to source or sew their own orange masks and make a statement by wearing them every Friday leading up to December 9th, marked as International Anti-Corruption Day. By wearing orange masks, we will effectively be telling the government and the private sector that we value our democracy and Constitution, and we refuse to sit by idly watching as greedy business ‘covidpreneurs’, politicians and public servants steal money that is meant to save lives during the pandemic.

We will not allow frontline health workers to be put in danger because someone has stolen the money or inflated prices for personal protective equipment. We will not allow food parcels meant for the poor to be used as bargaining chips to secure local fiefdoms.

The #OrangeMaskFridays campaign takes inspiration from a recent moral call by the South African Council of Churches (SACC) and several other organisations, urging government to ensure procurement transparency, and accountability for Covid-19 looters.

It also draws from Archbishop Thabo Makgoba’s call for 2020 to be the ‘Year of the Orange Overalls’. The Archbishop shared these views last year demanding greater accountability for state capture.

Our call puts power back in the hands of the public. It is us, the ordinary public, who has entrusted government to look after our money and we insist that it be used wisely and prudently to benefit society.

We demand the full details of all Covid-19 procurement, presented in a way that provides the unit cost of items and services rendered. It should include the details of companies that were given contracts, and whether they had any track record of work in that particular field. We also want to know who the directors of these companies are. If companies are found guilty of corruption and price inflation, both the entities and their directors should be prevented from doing any future business with the state.

Law enforcement must act swiftly. We cannot allow years to pass by before we start seeing investigations leading to arrests, successful prosecutions and monies being recouped. Action must be taken now to set the tone that there will be consequences for stealing public money. 

At the same time, we call on civil servants and workers in the private sector to make whistle-blowing an act of national duty. As the vanguards against corruption, civil servants should refuse to sign off any dodgy contracts. Workers in the private sector should refuse to handle corrupt transactions.

We recognise that there are institutional problems that exist which enable corruption, including nepotism and honest public servants and private sector workers coming under political or other forms of pressure. Over the long term, government must engage with civil society to further develop plans to insulate the public administration from inappropriate political or private sector interference.

This month, we will celebrate our rich, diverse and common heritage on 24 September. What we will not celebrate, is a growing culture of corruption that is becoming endemic within the public and private sector. For the vast majority of people in this country, who are not corrupt, we will wear our orange masks as a rejection of corruption, and we will highlight how this scourge undermines the development of our country.

During Heritage Weekend, we urge the public to initiate action within the necessary safety and health standards at their workplaces, religious institutes, neighbourhoods and organisations. 

People can tweet pictures of themselves in their orange masks using the hashtag #OrangeMaskFridays, participate in ‘yard-pickets’ at their homes, organise car-cades, tie orange ribbons on street poles, fly orange banners from buildings, host online seminars or sermons on the topic, or use any creative means within the necessary Covid-19 regulations to make their voices heard.

Details of further initiatives will be communicated in due course.

For media enquiries contact:

Moira Campbell: 083 995 4711

Delani Majola: 078 547 4981

Zenzile Mavuso: 081 433 2876

Signed by:

  1. Active Citizens Movement
  2. Ahmed Kathrada Foundation
  3. Ansarul Ummahtil Islam
  4. Beit Emanuel Progressive Synagogue
  5. Botsotso Ensemble
  6. Business Ecology
  7. Cala University Students Association
  8. Citizens Against Corruption Forum
  9. Citizens of Conscience
  11. Congress of Business and Economics
  12. Congress of South African Trade Unions
  13. Cooperative and Policy Alternative Centre
  14. Corruption Watch
  15. Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution
  16. Dr Xhaka Kholekile Gqwesani SHASHA Foundation 
  17. Gandhi Development Trust
  18. Heartlines
  19. Imam Haron Foundation
  20. Inner City CAN Collective
  21. Joburg City Network
  22. Johannesburg Against Injustice
  23. Joe Slovo Foundation
  24. Krishna Rabilal Foundation
  25. Lawyers for Human Rights
  26. Legal Resources Centre
  27. Lombard
  28. Mediate Works
  29. Merebank Justice Network  
  30. Merebank Residents’ Association
  31. Muslim Judicial Council (SA)
  32. Muslim Youth Movement
  33. National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  34. National Association of Democratic Lawyers – Durban Branch
  35. National Youth Development League
  36. NOAH CAN
  37. Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse
  38. Patriotic Movement
  39. Phoenix Settlement Trust
  40. Progressive Health Forum
  41. Progressive Tamil Movement
  42. Public Affairs Research Institute
  43. Right2Know
  44. Society for the Promotion of Arabic
  45. South African Communist Party
  46. South African Council of Churches
  47. South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
  48. Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute
  49. South African Hindu Maha Sabha
  50. South African Tamil Federation
  51. Survivors of State Capture at the South African Revenue Service
  52. Tamil Federation of Gauteng – West Region
  53. Tamil Business Warriors
  54. The Angel Network
  55. The Fruit Basket
  56. Top Quartile Project Services Africa
  57. Union of Muslim Students – Associations
  58. Uniting Reformed Church – Struisbaai 
  59. Uwais Qarni Islamic Centre
  60. Wattville CAN
  61. Windmill Park CAN
  62. 70s Group
  63. #SA1stForum

• Follow #OrangeMaskFridays on Twitter. Like the Facebook page set up to highlight various activities as the campaign unfolds: Organisations can continue endorsing this statement by emailing