President Cyril Ramaphosa reinforced, on Monday, the importance of keeping South Africans informed of vaccine acquisition developments, adding that government must be held to account for all decisions made around the vaccine.
Ramaphosa wrote in his weekly column to the nation that South Africa will soon be receiving its first consignment of Covid-19 vaccines from the world’s largest vaccine producer, the Serum Institute of India (SII).
He noted concerns with government’s transparency on multilateral initiatives and direct negotiations with manufacturers.
He assured that, as government has done with the SII acquisition, details of deals with other manufacturers will be released following negotiations and when South Africa is released from communications terms of the non-disclosure agreements.
“Throughout the pandemic, government has been open and transparent with the South African people on the health measures it is taking to secure our people’s safety. We have sought to explain all our decisions, to listen to people’s concerns and to continuously update the country on the state of the disease. When it comes to fighting a deadly pandemic like this, honesty and trust are just as valuable as any vaccine,” Ramaphosa said.
The mass vaccination campaign will be the most ambitious and extensive in the history of the country, he noted, with a widespread roll-out strategy, making use of the assistance of the private sector, civil society, traditional leaders and the religious sector.
Ramaphosa promised an improvement of all government’s communication channels to regularly inform South Africans of any developments in the vaccination programme, to provide accurate and factual information and to engage with and listen to South Africans.
He said government has undertaken to dispel any misconceptions around the Covid-19 vaccine through an extensive communications campaign.
He added that false information and fake news can and does risk many lives and he called on South Africans to work together to build confidence in the vaccine and demonstrate its effectiveness and safety.
“We have a massive task ahead of us, probably far greater than any of us has ever undertaken before. But if we work together, if we support and trust each other and if we keep the lines of communication open, we will certainly succeed,” Ramaphosa ended.