DA to lay ethics complaint against Tito Mboweni over Covax payment

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Dec 19, 2020

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Cape Town - The official opposition on Friday said it would request the ethics committee to investigate Finance Minister Tito Mboweni for allegedly misleading Parliament about the country’s payment to sign up to the global Covax programme.

This comes after reports surfaced that South Africa missed the December 15 payment deadline for the Covid-19 vaccine.

"It is unconscionable that our government can botch up the acquisition of a life-saving vaccine, that is safe and readily available when thousands are at risk of dying from this pandemic," DA leader John Steenhuisen said.

Steenhuisen said securing the vaccine for South Africa as soon as possible should be the government’s number one priority right now.

"It is unacceptable that the government's tardiness is jeopardising our access to the vaccine."

He also said questions had been asked in Parliament to President Cyril Ramaphosa and Mboweni, but details have been sketchy and that they were told that the government was dealing with the matter.

Steenhuisen also said Mboweni has seemingly misled Parliament on this issue.

"When asked about government missing the first payment deadline, Minister Mboweni snapped at opposition parties claiming that we had gotten our facts wrong. Two days after the second deadline has been missed, it would seem our facts are spot on.

"The fact that both payment deadlines for the vaccine’s deposit have now been missed would throw cold water onto claims that South Africa is anywhere near acquiring this vaccine."

Steenhuissen also said given the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the vaccine, the public needed a clear and full explanation of Mboweni around the vaccine.

"Minister Mboweni should be completely transparent on the exact financing arrangements the government has committed itself to," he said.

"In order to ensure full transparency, the DA will submit an application to the Minister of Health in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act to request all the relevant information around a detailed vaccine plan."

He described the failure to meet the payment deadline as gross negligence hence his party was lodging a complaint with the ethics committee.

Steenhuisen said those responsible for the botch should be held accountable.

He also stated that they have no idea what the prioritisation of the rollout of the vaccine would be.

"This is why we require the detail on this plan as soon as possible," Steenhuisen added.

His colleague Geordin Hill-Lewis said the acquisition of the vaccine was something that could not be bungled.

"South Africa needs this vaccine. It should be government’ s number one priority," he said.

Hill-Lewis also said Mboweni should be held accountable.

DA national spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube echoed those sentiments saying that South Africa needed Covid-19 vaccine roll out plan.

"Withholding does not inspire confidence in this process," Gwarube said.

"If we don't have a plan, how do we take on the mammoth task if the government is tight lipped on the process," she said, adding that there has been little detail on the payment for the vaccine.

"We are requesting leadership from the ministers and president," Gwarube said.

Political Bureau

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