We've got news for you.

Register on TimesLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Covid-19 won't be over until everyone has vaccine access, says Nomzamo Mbatha

The actress has joined forces with the Cotton On Foundation and Unicef to help make vaccine equity a reality

23 June 2021 - 16:00 By sanet oberholzer
Nomzamo Mbatha at the Ethekwini School in KwaMashu, KZN, which the actress opened with the Cotton On Foundation in 2020.
Nomzamo Mbatha at the Ethekwini School in KwaMashu, KZN, which the actress opened with the Cotton On Foundation in 2020.
Image: Supplied/Cotton On Foundation

Nomzamo Mbatha has a lot to be excited about.

The local actress recently made waves after snagging a role in the Eddie Murphy film, Coming 2 America, and hints that she’ll be appearing on screen with another international A-lister soon.

“I’m actually getting ready to hop on set and shoot my next film that will have a very awesome human being that has been in the Hollywood blockbusters for a very long time,” Mbatha says.

“I’m very nervous to be working with him but I’m very excited as well. I’ll be playing a lead on that film and so, again, I get to stretch my muscle and continue to do the work and build my portfolio.”

Something else Mbatha is excited about is collaborating with trendy clothing brand Cotton On and the UN Children's Fund (Unicef) on a fundraising campaign that aims to deliver one million Covid-19 vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable communities in partnership with the global vaccine equity scheme, Covax.

Nomzamo Mbatha models one of the T-shirts in the Cotton On Foundation range, the proceeds from the sale of which go to charity.
Nomzamo Mbatha models one of the T-shirts in the Cotton On Foundation range, the proceeds from the sale of which go to charity.
Image: Supplied/Cotton On Foundation

How does it work? Purchase a Cotton On Foundation product in store or online until July 4 and all the proceeds will go to accomplishing that goal.

We asked the celeb, who is a Cotton On ambassador, to tell us more:

What is it about this specific project, and this specific issue, that you feel particularly passionate about?

I’ve always been a person who believes 'we cannot celebrate making it far without sending the ladder down'. Vaccine equity is exactly that. We’re watching how the rest of the world — especially developed countries — are celebrating how far they’ve got into their [vaccine] rollout plans, and [providing] access to vaccines for their citizens.

But how can we fully say that Covid-19 is over when it’s not over for everyone? I’m a believer in global citizenship and think vaccine equity is going to be the great morality test when it comes to how we operate as a global community and how we leave others behind those who do not have the resources or the access.

Who are you hoping this will impact the most?

It’s children, it’s first responders, it’s teachers, so that they are able to be in a classroom. All the people who are very much forgotten or not put on the forefront when it comes to vaccine access.

What do you think has been highlighted when it comes to the problems that we have in our global society, especially when it comes to having access to vaccines and how we have responded to the pandemic?

Knowledge has been one of the main things. Information has not been as accessible as it should be, hence we’re dealing with vaccine hesitancy, which is a normal thing [as] this generation has never been in a pandemic. So there’s vaccine hesitancy [and] knowledge that needs to be dispersed so that we are able to have vaccine confidence.

I think in terms of how affected the communities around the world have been, the stark thing has really been loss of employment which affects [the ability to put] food on the table. [Not having] food on the table will affect your health. Your health will affect the rest of the household or the functioning of the household and how people are expected to show up in their different communities. So I think there were really a lot of things that this pandemic unearthed about the inequities that exist and plague societies.

How will these one million vaccines be distributed? How will individuals be selected to receive the vaccines?

It’s based on databases and the active communities that Unicef and the Cotton On Foundation are engaging with. So the individuals are very much known and identified. Covax has also been very generous and open about the different communities and the demographics that will be receiving the vaccine.

When we ask people to buy Cotton On Foundation products, it is to assist in the delivery of the vaccine doses to such communities.

The Cotton On Foundation products are very cute. Do you have a favourite?

Products in the Cotton On Foundation range.
Products in the Cotton On Foundation range.
Image: Supplied

They are! The Human + Kind tote bags are my favourite — they just took my breath away and the colours are lovely. I use mine when I go grocery shopping.

I love the T-shirts with the slogan “in it together” on them. I think they’re so cute.

When it comes to your future plans, what are you working on in terms of other humanitarian efforts?

In terms of the humanitarian and philanthropic space, I am constantly working under my non-profit organisation, the Lighthouse Foundation. We have a lot of stuff that is coming up that I am very passionate about.

With [regard to the] Cotton On Foundation, we have a very exciting campaign that’s going to be launched in July/August — it's one that is very near and dear to my heart and much more personal to me.

Along with purchasing Cotton On Foundation products on the Cotton On website, you can also make a donation to the cause.