Steenhuisen SANDF deployment

DA leader John Steenhuisen.

Photo by Gallo Images/Ziyaad Douglas)

COVID-19: Lockdowns ‘should be rejected with contempt’ – Steenhuisen

Steenhuisen said that government’s vaccine rollout has been ‘slow, disorganised and fatal’, and rejected tighter lockdown restrictions.

Steenhuisen SANDF deployment

DA leader John Steenhuisen.

Photo by Gallo Images/Ziyaad Douglas)

As tighter lockdown restrictions become increasingly likely as the third wave of COVID-19 cases continues to surge across the country, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen has lashed out President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying that perpetual lockdowns are the result of his administrations failure to vaccinate the population. 

With only 2.2 million South Africans having received the jab, government is well short of its promised mandate, and Steenhuisen said on Wednesday that the efforts to roll out the vaccine and ensure that the country can move past the pandemic 15 months after it began have been “secretive, slow, disorganised and fatal”.

Government failures outlined  

In a statement released on Wednesday monring, Steenhuisen said that  SA is lagging well behind even some of the world’s poorest countries in terms of distributing vaccines to the people. 

“It means we have the same Covid response toolkit available to us in the third wave as we had 15 months ago in the first wave, with almost no progress made in preparing hospitals or building track and trace capacity,” he said. 

“The Ramaphosa administration has botched the vaccine programme from beginning to end. They failed to pay the Covax deposits. They failed to contact vaccine suppliers last year when peer countries were getting in the queue,” he said, also lamenting government’s blunders regarding the AstraZeneca vaccines supplied in February. 

“They failed to plan an efficient rollout. They failed to communicate clearly. They failed to admit to any of their failures.”

Lockdowns ‘will do more harm than good’  

Steenhuisen said that as a result, South Africa finds itself “at the back of the queue” facing more deaths that could have been avoided and an economy that is staring down the barrel of despair. 

“Of course, none of the individuals who have been entrusted to roll out an efficient vaccine programme and none of those around the table deciding whether to shut down the economy face losing their own lives or livelihoods,” he added. “They remain on full salary no matter what, and most of them have probably been vaccinated.”

Steenhuisen said that the continued implementation of stricter lockdown restrictions is the only tool government appears to have readily available, and he said that the people of South Africa should “reject these with contempt, since they will do more harm than good”.

“Ramaphosa needs to face the reality that his administration is failing on vaccines, and outsource the vaccine programme to the private sector,” he said. 

“He needs to empower provinces to make their own decisions about restrictions, based on their individual situations. The only thing that should shut down entirely is the National Coronavirus Command Council.”