President Cyril Ramaphosa has said during his Human Rights Day speech that the COVID-19 vaccine ‘will be made available to everyone in South Africa’ – despite mounting fears about the slow pace of Mzansi’s vaccination programme.
Ramaphosa told South Africans that the ANC government has strived to uphold the basic rights of all citizens, by introducing social and income support measures, such as the R350 grant. However, he may have made a promise that will be a struggle to keep, when he vowed to ensure that ‘every person in the country’ is offered a coronavirus vaccine.
“In recognition of the severe impact of the pandemic on people’s livelihoods, we have implemented social and income support measures to support struggling households, workers, and businesses. And in this, the next phase of our response to the pandemic, we are working to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccine is available to every person in our country.”
With little over 177 000 people vaccinated since February, the third wave of COVID-19 will inevitably hit SA in the coming winter months. President Ramaphosa, however, says South Africans are ‘resilient enough’ to come through this.
“We have been able to weather the coronavirus storm in large part because of the strong culture of human rights in our country. 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 – the right to life, to health and to dignity.”
The platitudes offered by Ramaphosa haven’t sat well in the DA camp. Indeed, DA leader John Steenhuisen claimed that their failure to secure a surplus of jabs ‘was the worst thing the ANC has done in 27 years of governance‘. On Twitter, Steenhuisen even branded the glacial vaccine programme ‘a violation of human rights’:
“The government’s vaccine failure is a shameful violation of human rights. If President Ramaphosa claims to care about human rights, we need to see a large-scale vaccination programme now. We can’t celebrate Human Rights Day without it.”
“The ANC must immediately begin with the rollout of one million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine in storage or come clean on why it refuses to do so. There is now broad scientific consensus that this vaccine is not only safe, but largely effective.”