AHEAD of Thursday’s State of the Nation Address, calls have been made for President Cyril Ramaphosa to be held accountable for the debacle around the AstraZeneca vaccine that was found to have a low efficacy rate and set to expire in April.
Opposition parties said Ramaphosa needed to account for the vaccine at the State of the Nation Address, but they were also not hopeful that this would happen. The parties also expressed their views on what should be tackled at Thursday’s event.
“President Ramaphosa is a dangerous embarrassment, especially with what happened with the vaccine,” said EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo. He added that he was not expecting much from Thursday’s address. “What can you expect from someone who fetches glycerine instead of vaccines?”
Pambo said basic checks such as the expiry date should have been done and that scientists should have checked on whether the vaccine was effective against the 501Y.V2 variant. He felt that the media was not asking the president tough questions and it was being left to opposition parties to do this.
DA spokesperson on health Siviwe Gwarube said: “I think it is important that Ramaphosa gives an account of what happened.”
Gwarube said there were a number of things that could have been done to prevent a debacle like the one that happened. One, was due diligence and checking the expiry date. She said what needed to be done was for Ramaphosa to present a way forward. She said the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines needed to be obtained as soon as possible. A comprehensive roll-out plan was also needed.
Gwarube said Ramaphosa needed to be held accountable by Parliament, adding that the ANC had a poor track record in holding its leaders accountable.
IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said Ramaphosa had to present new and innovative ideas at Sona. He said the president needed to account for Covid-19 issues, but they should not overshadow other matters that needed to be addressed.
Hlengwa said the matter of the vaccine debacle needed to focus on Deputy President David Mabuza, who was the chairperson of the inter-ministerial committee that would oversee everything related to the Covid-19 vaccine.
Economist Professor Bonke Dumisa said he hoped Ramaphosa would not rehash old speeches but give a summary of the state of South Africa. “He must be honest with South Africans,” he said.
Dumisa said the country already had a problem of lawlessness. “If he does not do this (be honest), he will be failing South Africans.”
A senior researcher at the Xubera Institute for Research and Development, Xolani Dube, said: “The ANC has reached its sell-by date and there is nothing new that they will tell South Africans.”
He said the evidence was that they were not willing to “repent” for what they had done and make a difference in the lives of black people. What needed to happen, he said, was for South Africans to start imagining a future without the ANC in power, and it should also imagine a future without apartheid and colonial structures.