ANC NEC lekgotla: SA to invest in vaccine science, bad councillors put on notice
The country has to immediately start preparing for future pandemics.
This will include investing in its own vaccine development programme.
This is according to the ANC national executive committee (NEC) lekgotla which ended its weekend-long meeting on Sunday.
The country has been battling to secure enough vaccine doses from international manufacturers who have so far only provided for countries with enough financial resources.
SA has heavily relied on countries outside Africa for immunisation against the novel coronavirus. The NEC agreed this has to change.
The first batches of the vaccine are expected to reach the country’s shores by the end of January.
“We have agreed that while we work with urgency to undertake these immediate tasks, our planning and preparedness for future crises must be improved. This must include investment in our own vaccine development and production capacity,” President Cyril Ramaphosa.
In his opening remarks on Friday, Ramaphosa urged the NEC lekgotla to discuss how the country, and Africa at large, could better prepare for future pandemics.
He said it had been clear that SA was not prepared to deal with the pandemic that’s wreaking havoc in the country.
All councillors must go through an intensive evaluation, particularly in municipalities that have performed poorly or where there allegations of corruption
“While South Africa has extensive experience in the development, trial and manufacture of vaccines, both for animal and human use, we were not prepared to tackle this challenge when it confronted us,” Ramaphosa said.
“As the world confronts the possibility of future pandemics, we need to be drawing on that experience that we already have and investing in South Africa’s own vaccine development and production industry — and we need to do so as part of a broader African initiative.”
Ramaphosa also said the NEC lekgotla had undertaken to build a “broad acceptance” of the vaccine programme and “vigorously tackle misinformation and misunderstanding”.
“To do this, we must ourselves be disciplined in our own public pronouncements, ensuring that we speak accurately and clearly,” Ramaphosa said.
Several ANC members are guilty of spreading falsehoods and conspiracies around the vaccine.
Some have sought to blame the 5G network for the spread Covid-19 while others have seemingly questioned the role of billionaire Bill Gates.
Ramaphosa also said the lekgotla had “placed the defeat of Covid-19 as our overriding and most pressing responsibility for 2021, which requires both an intensive vaccination programme alongside the intensification of prevention measures, increased screening and testing, and the further strengthening of our health system.”
On the local government election earmarked for August, the NEC lekgotla reaffirmed its task to only select capable candidates.
“We have agreed that all existing councillors must go through an intensive evaluation, particularly in municipalities that have performed poorly or where there allegations of corruption,” Ramaphosa said.
He said this called for the need to “speed up implementation of our decision to establish an ANC electoral committee to lead the candidate selection process”.