'Unbothered' and 'clueless': SA reacts to David Mabuza overseeing Covid-19 vaccine rollout

20 January 2021 - 10:25
Political parties and South Africans have criticised the announcement that Deputy President David Mabuza will oversee the procurement and distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine. File photo.
Political parties and South Africans have criticised the announcement that Deputy President David Mabuza will oversee the procurement and distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine. File photo.
Image: Masi Losi

Politicians and citizens have weighed in on the news that Deputy President David Mabuza will oversee Covid-19 vaccine procurement and distribution in SA.

On Tuesday, TimesLIVE reported President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Mabuza will be spearheading the government’s inter-ministerial team tasked with the vaccine rollout.

Ramaphosa made the announcement during a webinar organised by the ANC’s Progressive Business Forum on Tuesday.

“Today, we established an inter-ministerial committee which will be chaired by the deputy president. I will chair the first meeting and set the process on the way so we can deal with the different aspects of vaccine distribution.

“The strategy has already been developed but the IMC [inter-ministerial committee] will be dealing with the actual mechanics of ensuring the whole process of vaccination is well done,” said Ramaphosa.

SA is set to receive the first million doses of the vaccine later this month. Front-line and health workers will be vaccinated first.

The appointment of Mabuza comes as his whereabouts during the Covid-19 pandemic have been a subject of controversy.

The DA reacted with disbelief to the appointment of Mabuza, saying the move “proves SA’s Covid-19 vaccine plan is no longer about saving lives”. 

The party’s shadow minister of health Siviwe Gwarube said Mabuza was not a competent and reliable figure to oversee the process and has a history of failure in governance.

“It is unconscionable that President Ramaphosa would entrust one of the most monumental tasks of SA’s democratic dispensation in the hands of a man who is not only allegedly corrupt but who is clearly incapable of overseeing a programme of this magnitude,” Gwarabe said.

“The fact the president has made this move proves SA’s Covid-19 vaccine plan is no longer about saving lives. It is about his political alliances within the ANC. It is also unclear why, of all the people in the executive, he would choose somebody who has not done an iota of work on this crisis. This is nothing more than ANC factional battles playing out.”

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said: “Those who will be awarded tenders are expected to rub the hand of the giver, the ANC and leaders.”

One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane said the recent history of the deputy president’s tasks has shown poor results, if any.

“Then deputy president Ramaphosa was tasked with the inter-ministerial committee on Eskom and state-owned enterprises turnaround. We can see the results. Now Mabuza has the vaccine rollout. We need a public-private partnership team.”

Freedom Front Plus said the government should not be the sole purchaser and distributor of the vaccine.

“The private sector must be allowed to procure, store and distribute vaccines with the relevant regulations in place. To successfully roll out the Covid-19 vaccine programme, a public-private partnership must be established,” said the party.

On social media, many weighed in on Mabuza’s appointment, saying he “has been quiet during the entire pandemic” and questioned why he was tasked with leading the vaccine rollout.

Here is a snapshot of some of the reactions:

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