Government vaccine rollout a 'disgraceful, unforgivable failure so far': DA's Steenhuisen

24 June 2021 - 13:10 By unathi nkanjeni
DA leader John Steenhuisen says government's vaccine rollout programme was "a disgraceful, unforgivable failure so far". File photo.
DA leader John Steenhuisen says government's vaccine rollout programme was "a disgraceful, unforgivable failure so far". File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times

DA leader John Steenhuisen has slammed President Cyril Ramaphosa for the slow progress made by government to vaccinate South Africans against Covid-19.  

This comes after stats revealed that only 0.8% of the population in SA has been fully vaccinated, while 2.9% of the population has received one dose of the jab. 

On Wednesday, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported that 17,493 new Covid-19 cases were identified in SA in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic to 1,861,065. 

Steenhuisen said the vaccine rollout was “a disgraceful, unforgivable failure so far. Secretive, slow, disorganised, and fatal”.

“A full 15 months into the pandemic less than 1% of South Africans have been fully vaccinated, according to statistics shared by the presidency’s head of digital communications,” he said in a statement.

“This puts us far behind not just our upper-middle-income peer countries but also lower-middle-income and many poor countries.”

He criticised the Covid-19 response toolkit that's been available since the pandemic started, claiming it has made almost no progress in preparing hospitals or building track and trace capacity.

He said the lack of progress made by the government meant SA was at the “back of the queue”, facing more job losses and deaths that could be avoided. 

Steenhuisen said the implementation of stricter restrictions should be rejected with contempt because “they will do more harm than good”. 

On Tuesday, Ramaphosa said the government was considering imposing tighter lockdown restrictions, particularly in Gauteng where Covid-19 infections continue to rise.

Responding to questions during a visit to the Cape Town port on Tuesday, Ramaphosa said the issue of moving onto another level would be discussed by the national coronavirus command council (NCCC). 

“We are in the third wave, as we did say, and the issue of moving down to another level is a matter that will be discussed by the NCCC and they will make recommendations.

“Clearly, there seem to be indications that we have to increase the measures, particularly in Gauteng, that we put in place,” he said. 

TimesLIVE ran a poll on Tuesday in which readers were asked for their response to calls to impose tighter regulations in Gauteng.

A total of 57% said stricter measures should be put in place to protect lives.

Twenty percent of participants said it was too late, while 23% said they were tired of lockdown levels.