Ekurhuleni mayor defends comments on use of Cuban drug
Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina has decried being persecuted for mentioning Cuba when he advocated for the city to procure a Covid-19 drug two months ago.
"I spoke about a drug. I said any other we can find, including one from Cuba. I don't think I should be persecuted for mentioning Cuba," Masina said.
He made the statement when he was grilled in the virtual meeting of the cooperative governance and traditional affairs portfolio committee on Wednesday.
He was at the meeting to brief MPs about the city's response to Covid-19 pandemic. During the meeting MPs asked him about procurement of the drug using the city's emergency funds.
This after, in his state of the city address in March, he said they proposed using the municipality’s emergency funds “to procure the vaccine Inferon B from Cuba”.
On Wednesday, Masina stated he had said because there was Covid-19, it was important for them to look at global developments.
He also said it was by a way of an example when he said if a drug could be found to assist, even if it was found in Cuba, it should be procured.
The mayor said the city did not procure medicine directly but did so via the Gauteng government.
Masina said they had made a request as "we had to ensure we procure in the interest of the people".
The Gauteng government has refused their request, which he insisted was not a populist stance.
Masina noted, however, that Cubans are "our friends" and he welcomed Cuban doctors deployed to the city last week.
"People are irritated by the word Cuba in their vocabulary," he said.
But DA MP Mike Waters charged that Masina was misleading Parliament as his state of the city address stated they resolved to use emergency funds to procure funds from Cuba.
Waters accused the mayor of spreading fake news that there was a Covid-19 drug and gave the perception the residents would get the vaccine from Cuba.
Masina said Waters has a problem with him and that he has taken him to the Office of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane over the vaccine, where he would state his side of the story.
"I don’t know where he gets the speech because the speech that was handed as a record is very clear that we are looking for anything that is possible, within the ambit of the law.
"Hence, I now have an official response from the government that says they are not limiting us from getting medication.
"I talked about the vaccine, the drug and molecule. I didn’t talk about one thing. I said any other that we can find, including the one that I had heard about from Cuba," Masina added.