DURBAN - A total of 52 000 people have been vaccinated in South Africa. According to President Cyril Ramaphosa, phase one of the country's vaccination program kicked off last week. He said this is the first priority.
“To date, we have administered over 52 000 vaccine doses. Further doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be arriving in the coming weeks, reaching an initial total of 500 000,” he said.
Ramaphosa was speaking during a virtual meeting with the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) earlier today.
He said in addition to the 12 million doses South Africa would be receiving through the Covax facility, the country has secured further doses directly from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.
“Negotiations with other suppliers are ongoing and we are confident that we will be able to secure the quantities required.
“Even as the vaccine roll-out gathers pace, it will be necessary to continue to wear masks, social distance and avoid crowded, enclosed spaces,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the country has just emerged from a second wave of infections.
“We must now do everything within our means to contain further surges. This is vitally important if we are to restore our economy to full operation. In the coming weeks, we will be meeting with premiers, metro mayors and other stakeholders to assess the situation and decide on appropriate measures,” he said.
Ramaphosa said a second priority is accelerating the county's economic recovery.
“Our focus on infrastructure investment, public and social employment, localisation, and support to struggling companies and households was reflected in the budget priorities announced by the Minister of Finance this week,” he said.
The president said a critical part of the recovery is to use competition law, procurement and sectoral master plans to create space for new entrants and the development of small, medium and micro enterprise businesses.
“We remain committed to reducing our sovereign debt in a responsible manner, changing the composition of our spending from consumption towards investment, and sustaining spending on health and education,” he said.
Ramaphosa said a third priority is the implementation of economic reforms.
“We have already seen progress in areas that have long been stalled, including the expansion of energy generation capacity, digital migration, critical skills and rail and port development. Through Operation Vulindlela, working with implementing departments and agencies, we expect to see important progress in the coming months. This will help to reduce the cost of doing business and increase the overall competitiveness of our economy,” he said.
A fourth and final priority is to fight corruption and strengthen the state.
“Among other things, we have embarked on a process to professionalise the public service. A series of structured consultations are currently under way on various measures to reduce political interference in administration, ensure more stability in the tenure of senior public servants, and introduce more rigorous requirements for appointment and promotion,“ he said.
He added that clear progress has been made in rebuilding law enforcement agencies, ensuring that they are better capacitated and co-ordinating their efforts more effectively. The fight against corruption is gathering momentum.
“The State of the Nation Address was presented just four months after we announced the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.
This Sona was therefore not about presenting new ideas or new plans. It was about reporting on what we’ve done in those four months, what progress is under way and what action we plan to take in the year ahead.
“I would like to commend the media for the vital role you have been playing in keeping South Africans informed during this crisis. This work will become increasingly important as we confront disinformation and unsubstantiated rumours around the efficacy and safety of vaccines.
“As a country, we have a huge mountain to climb. But we know the path we have to take, we have the means, the will and the stamina, and we have made a solid start,” Ramaphosa said.