Cape Town - The provincial ANC has urged Premier Alan Winde to abandon his plans to try and procure vaccines, following the statement by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize that enough vaccines have been procured and there was no need for provinces to buy their own.
During the provincial budget in March, it was announced that the province had mobilised a R2.17 billion war chest to defeat Covid-19 in the Western Cape and that this would be spent on rolling out the vaccine, procuring the vaccine, and the response to a potential third wave of the pandemic.
In his briefing to Parliament’s portfolio committee on Wednesday, Mkhize said: “Enough vaccines have been procured for South Africa and all its provinces. The national government has bought vaccines on behalf of the country, after calculating the needs of provinces.
“There is no need for provinces to buy their own vaccines and if the province buys vaccines, it would amount to fruitless and wasteful expenditure,” said Mkhize.
Leader of the provincial opposition Cameron Dugmore (ANC) said: “The ANC in the legislature is on record, through our health spokesperson Rachel Windvogel, that Winde is simply playing to the gallery, wasting resources, and creating divisions and confusion by saying that the Western Cape will procure its own vaccines.
“Winde has been under instruction from his DA federal leader John Steenhuisen to embark on this route purely for party political posturing. To try and show the DA in a better light. I call on Winde to abandon this plan immediately. It makes no sense. It is not needed. It is already diverting resources and energy to serve a party political agenda,” said Dugmore.
Dugmore said the ANC will ask the chairperson of the standing committee on public accounts Lulama Mvimbi to engage with the auditor-general on this matter, and will also place it on the agenda of the next Covid-19 ad hoc committee on May 19.
In response to the criticism, Winde said: “During Minister Mkhize’s recent visit, he advised us that the national vaccine procurement programme will see a total of 46 million vaccines procured for the country, of which approximately 4.7 million will be allocated for the Western Cape.
“We welcome the minister’s reassurance in this regard. Our teams stand ready to vaccinate as many residents as possible, as quickly as possible, so that we can save more lives and prevent undue severe illness ahead of a third – and possible fourth – wave.
“That said, as a risk mitigation strategy, we will continue to keep our vaccine acquisition team engaged. This is the responsible thing to do, noting our duty to our residents to ensure that vaccines are available.”
Winde said the province’s risk mitigation approach will give residents the best chance to stay safe and move forward.
He said the province cares about the well-being and dignity of residents, and believes that a successful mass vaccination strategy is the only way to beat the Covid-19 virus, save lives and save the economy.