SACP in KZN says vaccine rollout is shrouded in 'secrecy and uncertainty'

SACP KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Themba Mthembu.
SACP KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Themba Mthembu.
Image: THULI DLAMINI

The Moses Mabhida branch of the SA Communist Party in KwaZulu-Natal has chastised  the government for what it calls “secrecy and uncertainty” on the Covid-19 vaccine rollout strategy and plan. 

The party's provincial secretary Themba Mthembu was addressing the media on Thursday during a briefing on a host of issues, including the pandemic and the imminent vaccine rollout.

This followed a strategic planning meeting of the branch earlier this month.

“The meeting agreed that there is a degree of secrecy and uncertainty on this front. The government might be mishandling this matter,” Mthembu said. 

“But depending on developing or acquiring a safe, effective vaccine may not be enough to end the pandemic. The vaccine must also be delivered at a price that is affordable to all governments and allocated in an equitable manner.”

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Wednesday night that one million doses of the vaccine — from the Serum Institute of India (SII) — will leave India on January 31, via Dubai, and arrive the next day at a time that has not yet been confirmed.

The SACP resolved to work with communities and structures of civil society to form “people centred and directed Covid-19 combat forums”, to let the people take responsibility for their own lives. 

“These Covid-19 combat forums will also monitor and evaluate the government strategy and rollout plan,” said Mthembu.

The SACP again raised concerns about SA’s perceived reluctance to work with other Brics countries like China and Russia, and allies like Cuba, in collaboration for vaccine development and rollout.

“Capitalist economists always tend to explain a crisis on the basis of external factors rather than internal workings of the capitalist economy. Now the same is being done with the present crisis,” said Mthembu.

“The crisis does not stem from coronavirus. It has already been maturing for quite some time, particularly in the realm of manufacture. Since 2008, economies have been in a bad shape with no recovery in sight. SA was already in a recession, rated at junk status before the outbreak.”

Mthembu said the meeting considered 1.43 million infections and more than 42,500 deaths due to Covid-19 as unacceptably high. He added that there is a strong belief that this could have been avoided. 

“It is clearer than ever that we are experiencing a countrywide public health catastrophe. After all, the SA health system is slowly transforming from a public good towards a largely private good for profit.”

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