Covid-19: SACP shows support for SANDF's procurement of Cuban-made medication

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  • The SACP has shown support for an SANDF procurement of Cuban-made medication.
  • The procurement process has come under scrutiny, with the Auditor-General finding several shortcomings.
  • The SACP has claimed objections to the medication are "anti-Cuban agenda".

The South African Communist Party (SACP) has thrown its support behind the South African National Defence Force's (SANDF) procurement of interferons.

In April, the SANDF spent R215 million on three consignments of the drug Heberon Alpha R 2B, also known as interferon. The drugs were reportedly smuggled into the county on an SA Airways flight carrying Cuban doctors sent to aid in the fight against coronavirus.

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Interferons are proteins used in the body as part of its natural defence against viruses. The Interferon Alpha-2B, manufactured by a Cuban-Chinese company, is believed to be effective in the fight against the coronavirus.

The deal came under scrutiny, with the Auditor-General finding several shortcomings in the planning, procurement, transportation, warehousing, and recording of medicines.

In a statement released on Thursday, the SANDF said the medication was acquired from Cuba on an emergency basis following the outbreak of Covid-19 in March.

'Anti-Cuban agenda'

The SANDF added that the drug was procured, "... for the sole use by members of the SANDF who were employed to assist the country in managing the pandemic".

In a statement issued on Sunday, the SACP said it supported legitimate measures by the SANDF to protect military personnel against Covid-19.

"The last thing that South Africa needs is a military compromised by disease... It does not take rocket science, vis-à-vis the World Health Organisation, to establish that Heberon Alfa R is approved around the world for the treatment of numerous diseases, including several cancers," the statement said.

The SACP claimed objections to the medication are part of an "anti-Cuban agenda" and driven by politics.

"We will… begin a process to hold to account authorities that allow people to die while remedies with the potential to save life are suppressed. South Africa should not allow politics, such as the anti-Cuban political agenda and the illegal blockade of Cuba by the United States, to stand in the way of protecting and saving life."

The Sunday Times reported that SANDF members and Hawks officers had a tense stand-off outside a military base on Friday.

The Hawks had arrived to raid the base to confiscate a consignment of the drugs from Cuba it was reported.

The crime-fighting unit was forced to leave when soldiers on guard denied them entry.

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