With the rampant corruption in personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement still fresh in mind, News24 reports that opposition parties have expressed the need for greater parliamentary oversight of government’s COVID-19 vaccine plan.
At a joint sitting of Parliament debating President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) last week, Democratic Alliance (DA) MP and spokesperson on health Siviwe Gwarube described the address as a “vacuous account of the past year and platitudes in the place of concrete plans”. “We got obfuscation instead of accountability,” she said. “South Africans are left none the wiser about the most critical intervention needed in this pandemic – a vaccine.”
She is quoted by News24 as saying said Ramaphosa missed an opportunity to tell Parliament of government’s plan to acquire vaccines for 40m South Africans – with specifics on the manufacturers, the amounts and exact timelines; government’s plan to ready our health system for the rollout of the vaccine; and the measures in place to ensure that every cent of public money is spent on saving lives instead of landing up in the pockets of corrupt politicians.
She said Parliament’s role has never been more critical. She said a start would be to agree to establish an ad hoc committee, chaired by the opposition to oversee the work of the inter-ministerial committee on the COVID-19 vaccine chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza.
News24 reports that Gwarube has twice written to Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise for the establishment of such a committee.
The report quotes Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) MP Mangosuthu Buthelezi as saying the corruption around COVID-19 was “unthinkable”. “We are racing against time. Our people are desperate for a vaccine. We are pleased to hear that the first 80,000 doses will arrive this week. But in a country of almost 60m people, it offers little hope. How will the vaccine be accessed by ordinary people? When will it be available? In the absence of details, and in the presence of corruption, our nation has very little trust,” he said.
Full News24 report (Open access)