Please find the attached soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP.
In what is a slight to the over a million South African healthcare workers who have battled valiantly against the Covid-19 pandemic under difficult circumstances, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last night that his Cabinet approved the nomination of the Cuban Medical Brigade for a Nobel Peace Prize for 2021.
This is truly bizarre at best and a great insult to South African healthcare workers at worst. No one will ever argue that we cannot express gratitude to international partners who have assisted the country in this journey, but that surely cannot be done by overlooking the monumental sacrifice done by our healthcare workers under impossible conditions.
It is for this reason that the Democratic Alliance (DA) will submit its own application to the Nobel Foundation for consideration for 2022 since this year’s nominations have closed. The motivation for this nomination will be clear:
- South African healthcare workers have been fighting valiantly against this pandemic in the front lines for almost a year next month;
- This has been done under difficult circumstances of a broken health system that is characterized by staff shortages, inadequate infrastructure and poor governance systems in many provinces;
- Many healthcare workers have not received a salary increase due to the fiscal cliff South Africa finds itself in as a direct result of poor management of the economy;
- Many were scrambling for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic while government struggled to secure supplies to protect them;
- Hundreds of healthcare workers have lost their lives to this virus while selflessly serving their country and thousands have been infected and still went back to serve on the frontlines;
- Healthcare workers are still working tirelessly through the various peaks of infections at a great personal cost to them even in the face of a sluggish vaccine rollout programme from their government.
It is unthinkable that this great sacrifice would be ignored and there would be disproportionate recognition given to the Cuban Medical Brigade which was contracted to South Africa at the tune of almost R240 million for a year. The efficacy of this deployment is yet to be proven in the greater scheme of the country’s fight against Covid-19. Yet, the very people who have stitched together our broken healthcare system have simply been given platitudes to show our gratitude as a country.
According to the statutes of the Nobel Foundation members of national assemblies may nominate those deserving of this great recognition. We are of the view that all healthcare workers can be grouped together as has been done in the past to have this prestigious award given to them from a country that could never mount a decent response to this pandemic were it not for them.
The last South Africans to be awarded this prize were former Presidents Nelson Mandela and FW De Klerk. Since then, many groups have been awarded the prize. There can be no more deserving recipients that our very own healthcare workers without whom thousands more could have lost their lives.