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President Ramaphosa promises Covid-19 vaccines to everybody in SA

President Ramaphosa promises Covid-19 vaccines to everybody in SA

President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised that government was working to “ensure that the Covid-19 vaccine is available to every person in the country”.  He did not provide a time frame for this.

During the virtual Human Rights day address on Sunday, Ramaphosa said that “unity” and “the strong culture of human rights in our country” largely contributed to South Africans being able to weather the coronavirus storm.

Epidemiologists had, earlier this month, expressed doubt whether South Africa would be able to achieve herd immunity by vaccinating 67% of its population or around 40 million people by year-end.  The rollout has been slow and a vaccination calculator, developed by local data journalists, showed that it would take more than 18 years to achieve that target at the current rate of vaccinations.

Ramaphosa said that South Africans had come a long way from being a society that cared for a few at the expense of the majority, as government, in partnership with social partners and civil society, worked to realise human rights for all.

“Through the provision of care to the sick and social support to the vulnerable, we have worked together to give effect to the most important rights of our people,” he said, “the right to life, to health and to dignity”

He also said government had implemented “social and income support measures to support struggling households, workers and businesses” in recognition of the impact the pandemic had on people’s ability to earn a living.

South Africans should work towards establishing a country that was even better than before.  Build an economy “that promises equal opportunity for all”  The struggle to get through the pandemic was “far greater than ourselves” and went beyond just securing one’s own job, health and safety.  “It is a fight to preserve our common humanity,” Ramaphosa said, and this would involve working together as government, labor, business, or communities.

DA leader, John Steenhuisen, said government’s failure to procure Covid-19 vaccines and its failure to put in place a rollout program “has been the ANC government’s single worst failure in the 27 years of our democracy”

He said this was a violation of the rights of South Africans to healthcare services.  The party has launched a “vaccine tracker” to “monitor South African’s vaccine procurement and nationwide rollout”  According to Steenhuisen, the rights of South Africans had been “eroded” under the lockdown and mentioned the police brutally at the start of South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown last year as an example.

In the first 40 days, there were 589 complaints of assault filed against the police with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, with 32 South Africans dying at the hands of police.  He also questioned the constitutionality of the Disaster Management Act, which enabled government to curtail people’s rights to earn a living, to move around freely and go to school.

 


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