- The government launched a vaccination social mobilisation campaign, called "Return to Play – it's in your hands".
- The campaign is an effort to move from the current relief-based interventions to encouraging citizens to vaccinate.
- Nathi Mthethwa spearheaded the launch, with the support of Deputy President David Mabuza.
The government on Wednesday launched a campaign called "Return to Play – it's in your hands".
It is a move seen as transitioning from relief-based interventions to encouraging citizens to take an active part in efforts to resuscitate the hard-hit economy.
Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who launched the campaign, said the government continued to play a role in eradicating the pandemic.
He added, though, that it was time for individuals, especially those in positions of influence, such as sports stars and entertainers, to encourage their fans, as well as citizens, to vaccinate.
This was to work towards fully reopening the entertainment industry, which was one of the hardest-hit industries because of the regulations put in place by the government to curb the pandemic.
Deputy President David Mabuza, who was at the event in his capacity as the chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Covid-19 Vaccines, urged citizens to get vaccinated in order to be permitted to again see their sports stars and entertainers performing live at events.
The two government officials said it was time to slowly phase out relief-based interventions and instead encourage the country's citizenry to lead the charge to fully reopen the economy. This could be done by vaccinating, and also encouraging and educating those hesitant to get the jab.
"The restrictions related to entertainment and sporting venues have made it difficult for some of the artists to sustain themselves. With limited resources from government, no amount of support could be enough to compensate for the negative impact of Covid-19 on sustainable incomes and livelihoods," said Mabuza.
"While government made contributions to lessen the negative impact on incomes, we are under no illusion that this can solve all your problems," said Mabuza.
As an example, the deputy president said the closure of stadiums had affected those in sport, but there was a greater impact on the transport sector and vendors, who also depend on it for their business.
Sports stars, such as Olympic medallist Tatjana Schoenmaker, former Bafana Bafana international Siphiwe Tshabalala, and former Banyana Banyana captain Amanda Dlamini, were in attendance.
They encouraged South Africans to go out in their numbers and get their vaccines because this would return the country to some form of normalcy.
"We have partnered in a collective commitment to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic by ensuring that we reach out to our communities through the vaccination social mobilisation campaign that we are launching today.
"Our call to action to every South African is to vaccinate, so as to reduce the rates of infections, hospitalisation and deaths, and revive our vibrant entertainment industry," said Mabuza.
As an incentive, Mabuza added that the sooner the country vaccinates 70% of the citizens and reaches herd immunity, the sooner all entertainment venues would be back to full capacity.
It has been over a year since fans entered stadiums across the country to access any sport or festivals, but Mabuza indicated that, as the theme of the launch suggested, the ball was in every citizen's hands.
As yet another incentive, Mthethwa said his department would be giving away tickets for the upcoming Bafana Bafana World Cup qualifiers and other entertainment events.
He, however, refused to comment on when stadiums would be reopened for business, saying he would leave this to the citizens and how quickly they vaccinated.