Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed his deputy, David Mabuza, to be the face of government in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and to lead a team of high powered people to deliver vaccines to millions of South Africans.
Ramaphosa’s decision followed a Cabinet decision on Tuesday after receiving a report from the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) about the rate of infection and surveillance work conducted by the Health Department and supported by the Ministerial Advisory Committee.
The president, however, has welcomed the downward trend of infections across the provinces, with the exception of the Free State and Northern Cape.
“Cabinet thanks all South Africans who continue to play their part by adhering to the health protocols adopted to minimise infections, such as wearing masks at all times when in public, maintaining social distancing, washing their hands at all times with water and soap or using an alcohol-based sanitiser and avoiding gatherings.
“Cabinet was also briefed on the national Covid-19 Vaccine Roll-out Programme. The vaccination programme is the key intervention to mitigate the public health and economic impact of the Covid 19 pandemic. The roll-out programme entails procurement, distribution, actual vaccination, monitoring, communication and mobilisation,” Ramaphosa said.
He also said that Cabinet had approved the setting up of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Vaccination to assist with the quick decision-making from all the relevant departments that will contribute towards the smooth roll-out of the vaccination programme.
“The IMC, to be chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza, will meet weekly to receive reports and intervene in unlocking any challenges that may be encountered during the implementation,” he said.
Ramaphosa also confirmed that he would be chairing the inaugural meeting.
Other members of the IMC include Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize; Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni; Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; Minister in The Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jackson Mthembu; Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele; Minister of State Security, Ayanda Dlodlo; Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande; Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan; Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi; Minister of Public Service and Administration, Senzo Mchunu; Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel; Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu; and Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Dr Naledi Pandor.
The DA, however, has served Ramaphosa with a letter of demand asking him to provide details of the procurement of vaccines including details of the suppliers. The party, which served the letter on Monday this week, had given Ramaphosa seven days to respond to their letter.
Meanwhile, DA leader John Steenhuisen has alleged that the president has failed to negotiate with one of the suppliers of the vaccine.
“This is why the DA instructed its lawyers to write to President Ramaphosa on Monday demanding that he respond, within seven days, with the full timeline and minutes of government’s dealings with all vaccine suppliers.
“He must also provide a detailed roll-out plan for the vaccination programme, including vaccine type, confirmed quantities of each, delivery dates of each, storage and transport arrangements, roll-out priority, and their plan to communicate all of this to citizens.
“We have informed him that should he not respond within seven days, or should his response be unsatisfactory, we will be left with no choice but to approach the courts to compel him to do so,” Steenhuisen said.