South Africans do not need stricter lockdowns, they need vaccines

Please find attached a soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP.

The announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that South Africa will move to adjusted level 2 lockdown comes as little surprise as at least 4 of the 9 provinces have entered the 3rd wave of infections. The reality is that this was inevitable with the sluggish rollout of the vaccine.

As of Friday the 28th of May, government would have vaccinated less than a million people. This means that the target of vaccinating 40 million people by year end is unattainable. This is a dismal performance considering how the 1st and 2nd wave of infections and subsequent lockdowns cost so many lives and livelihoods. This pace of vaccination will certainly lock the country in perpetual lockdowns for months to come.

The earlier curfew, permits for workers and closure of non-essential establishments by 10 pm, will do nothing in the long-term fight against Covid-19. While we welcome the restriction on large gatherings, vaccines are needed urgently to stem the bleeding of the South African economy.

Furthermore, President Ramaphosa has once again demonstrated his inability to take action against those in his own cabinet and in the ANC accused of corruption.

The only acceptable announcement this evening would have been that the President has instructed Minister Zweli Mkhize to step down until the finalisation of the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) investigation looking into his role in the awarding of a multi-million-rand contract to a company ran by close associates of the minister.

But President Ramaphosa failed to take this bold stance. Instead, he completely ignored this massive issue showing how his commitment to fighting corruption is just empty words.

Minister Mkhize cannot be the player and the referee in this investigation. He needs to be removed so that the SIU can conduct its work without undue political influence. It cannot be that the President allows the person charged with leading the Covid-19 response in the country has damning allegations against him.

The DA has repeatedly called for an efficient vaccine rollout programme for the past year. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated South Africa’s social and economic challenges and we simply cannot afford any further restrictions.

Only a proper vaccine rollout programme will put an end to the continuous upsurge in Covid cases in South Africa. Failure to do so is condemning South Africans to further devastation and economic ruin.

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