Cape Town – President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday thanked the donors who contributed towards the country’s Solidarity Fund.
The president was delivering his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in the Cape Town City Hall in the Western Cape.
Ramaphosa said the fund played a significant role in the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The fund, which raised around R3.4 billion, was launched within two weeks after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic to help the country’s health sector combat the spread of the virus.
The president said the country owed a huge debt to healthcare workers who stood on the front lines at a time when the virus wreaked havoc.
“In a wave of generosity, the fund raised R3.4 billion from more than 300 000 individual South Africans and companies. The fund has played a pivotal role in supporting the national health response to the virus, and alleviating the humanitarian crises.
“I would like to thank everyone that contributed to the Solidarity fund. Many of you who contributed, a number of you were Members of Parliament… I applaud you and thank you,” Ramaphosa said.
As the country grappled with various waves and variants of the Covid-19 virus over the past year, the state had to upscale its response to the pandemic.
The president said the state took every chance it could to strengthen the health system to aid the country’s response to the pandemic. He said vaccines remained the only form of defence against the virus.
Vaccine hesitancy, according to several reports, was found to have been caused by misleading information circulating on social media. These were often in the form of conspiracy theories about vaccines.
But misuse of Covid-19 funds were rife with various government departments accused of corruption and maladministration, some of which are still under investigation.
South Africa also faced international scrutiny after a claim by the UK indicating that the Omicron variant had started in SA. The UK then put SA on its red list, banning all flights to and from the country.
Government officials said at the time that SA was being punished – instead of applauded – for discovering the Omicron variant.
South Africa and 10 other African nations were later removed from the UK’s red list.