SOUTH Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa last night promised the ANC-led government will deliver a mass Covid-19 vaccination programme that will reach all 60 million South Africans.
Ramaphosa was delivering the ANC’s annual January 8 statement to mark the 109th anniversary of its formation.
Due to Covid-19-enforced restrictions on large gatherings, the governing party held its birthday bash virtually.
“To overcome Covid-19 we are preparing to implement a mass vaccination programme that reaches all South Africans as appropriate quantities of an effective and suitable vaccine are procured,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the ANC’s foremost and immediate priority for 2021 will be overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 30 000 people in South Africa and infected over one million.
”This (vaccination) programme will initially prioritise health workers and other frontline personnel such as teachers and policemen and women, the elderly and people with co-morbidities.
’’We will progressively reach all South Africans through a mass vaccination campaign to achieve herd immunity and prevent ongoing transmission,” Ramaphosa promised.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize this week announced that the government had secured 1.5 million doses of the Serum Institute of India (SII)/Astra Zeneca vaccine for the country’s estimated 1.25 million healthcare workers in public and private facilities.
Later this month, one million will be delivered and another 500 000 in February from the SII, which also gave the government the green light to publicly announce the roll out and start engaging all relevant stakeholders and make preparations.
Mkhize had also undertaken that the government would immunise over 40.3 million South Africans, which is equivalent to about 67.25% of the population and 57% by the end of 2021.
The president also tackled the wave of fake news around Covid-19 and vaccination.
”We need to actively counter the spread of disinformation relating to Covid-19 and unfounded conspiracy theories about the virus, its treatment and the development of vaccines. Above all, as we have done over the past year, we must continue to work together as a united nation to confront the grave coronavirus threat. Our focus throughout must be on saving lives and protecting livelihoods,” said Ramaphosa.
Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams this week called on police to arrest anyone threatening to remove infrastructure network stations or towers due to claims circulating on social media platforms linking Covid-19 to 5G technology.
Ndabeni-Abrahams’ plea followed the torching of three Vodacom and MTN towers in KwaZulu-Natal this week.
Ramaphosa admitted his administration has limited resources and therefore needs to intensify other poverty alleviation measures alongside the economic recovery as the emergency social relief measures introduced last year were coming to an end.
”This year, the ANC, government and broader society will need to continue discussions on the desirability and viability of a basic income grant to provide a social safety net to the poor,” he said.
The country, Ramaphosa said, must also not continue the fight against what he has repeatedly described as the “second pandemic” and a national crisis – violence against women and children – which continues to plague society.
”Gender-based violence and femicide is rooted in patriarchal attitudes and is the most blatant affront to our common humanity. Ending gender-based violence in all its forms is integral to the social and economic progress of our nation,” he said.
Ramaphosa wants his administration to be more direct in its efforts to reduce alcohol and substance abuse through a combination of legislative and other measures and community mobilisation.
He said alcohol and substance abuse were contributing factors in the perpetration of violence.
“The temporary restrictions that were placed on the availability of alcohol under the state of disaster regulations have demonstrated the extent to which abuse of alcohol fuels violence, trauma and reckless behaviour and places a burden on our health system and emergency services,” he said. – IOL