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Covid-19 Vaccine: Cosatu chimes into chorus of criticism against Cyril’s government

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The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has joined the chorus of criticism directed at government over its handling, or is mishandling, of the procurement of a vaccine to combat COVID-19.

The trade union federation said President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration has displayed “gross incompetence” while managing the country’s procurement process.

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As the country’s Covid-19 caseload surpassed the grim 1 million mark last Sunday, President Ramaphosa announced stricter lockdown measures. He also said that a vaccine will become available, but only in the second quarter of 2021 through the COVAX facility, adding that the government is engaging with various pharmaceutical companies over their vaccine candidates.

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said that these negotiations are taking place “a little too late” as the country battles the second wave of infections fuelled by a new variant of the virus said to me “more infectious.”

Pamla said the government is “trying to explain something that cannot be explained,” and then referred to the “bureaucratic bungling” that characterized the HIV-Aids crisis in the country saying the circumstances are eerily alike.

“When we went into a lockdown earlier in 2020 we all understood our health system was going to collapse, they needed to make sure that they are not just ready with health and safety mechanisms and PPE, but also they would have worked with all the suppliers of the vaccine to make sure that at least those people that we expect them to keep the lights on and yet we don’t seem to have a plan. No, it’s gross incompetence, its gross incompetence.”

Pamla says the least government could have done was to ensure healthcare and essential workers have access to the vaccine by now.

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