DA wants National Assembly to reconvene for urgent debate on Covid-19 vaccine

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Sitting of the National Assembly.
Sitting of the National Assembly.
Jeffrey Abrahams, Gallo Images
  • The DA wants the National Assembly to reconvene for an urgent debate.
  • They are concerned about South Africa's plan for the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine.
  • Parliament adjourned for the year in the first week of December.

The DA wants the National Assembly to reconvene for an urgent debate on South Africa's Covid-19 vaccination plan before the end of the year.

DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone wrote to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise with a request to this effect.

"After the Annus Horibilis ("horrible year" in Latin) that we have just gone through, we need to start 2021 with a clear, not misinterpreted plan. Misinforming Parliament is a crime," said Mazzone in a statement.

She said South Africans were initially told that vaccines covering up to 10% of the population would be administered in the first quarter of 2021, but in his address to the nation on Monday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa said they had been "advised that we should expect the vaccines in the second quarter of 2021".

"Coupled with reports that South Africa missed its second payment deadline for the World Health Organisation's vaccination programme; indications of large-scale PPE-corruption; and our government's generally poor track record when it comes to delivery, it is not unreasonable to be concerned that South Africans will be left behind while the rest of the world opens up their now Covid-free economies and resume normal life in 2021."

READ | Covid-19: DA to take legal action to make govt's Covid-19 vaccine plans public

Mazzone said an urgent debate of national importance would allow Members of Parliament to engage Cabinet ministers such as Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on their respective departments' plans and the alternatives they considered.

The DA proposed to halt the bail-out of SAA and redirect the money to acquiring vaccines.

"The debate can easily be held in a virtual plenary before the clock ticks into the new year," said Mazzone.

"As we approach the new year, South Africans deserve to know the truth about the government's vaccination plans and what awaits our nation in 2021. We can not afford to get locked into a cycle of lockdowns that damage our economy and destroys lives and livelihoods."

Parliament rose for the year in the first week of December. The National Assembly's rules allow Modise to reconvene the assembly "in exceptional circumstances" and - after consultation with the leader of government business, Deputy President David Mabuza, and party whips - allow the House to sit.

In December last year, the DA unsuccessfully requested an urgent debate on Eskom's rolling blackouts after Parliament rose for the year.

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