President Ramaphosa dismisses opposition criticism on vaccine rollout

President Cyril Raphaosa faced tough questions from the EFF and the DA on government's vaccine rollout plan during a question and answer session in the National Assembly on Thursday.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa has batted away opposition attacks over the pace of the country’s vaccine roll-out and dismissed criticism that he was more interested in the ANC’s factional battles than saving the lives of South Africans.

Ramaphosa answered questions in the National Assembly on a virtual platform on Thursday.

He came under attack from both the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters during sometimes heated exchanges over the government’s ability to vaccinate 67% of the population against COVID-19 by the end of the year.

Ramaphosa said South Africa had procured enough vaccines to achieve population immunity and had a robust and comprehensive plan to roll it out – but that didn’t stop the opposition DA and EFF from going on the offensive.

DA leader John Steenhuisen complained that South Africa was lagging behind other countries in Africa and the world and accused Ramaphosa of paying more attention to ANC internal politicking.

“You’re busy waging a factional war while a third wave looms in South Africa,” shouted Steenhuisen in the National Assembly to the cheer of his benches.

Ramaphosa dismissed Steenhuisen’s reference to factional battles as “waffle”.

“What is happening in the ANC is also not your business – it is ANC business,” replied the president.

EFF leader Julius Malema asked whether Ramaphosa was putting vaccine transactions ahead of saving lives.

Ramaphosa said delays in the vaccination programme and registration of the Sputnik and Sinopharm vaccines were beyond the government’s control.

“We do not play games with the lives of the people, all this time during this pandemic we’ve been working out how best we can save the lives of our people.

"Some of us don’t sleep much, honourable Malema, we are continuously worried, concerned at how best we can secure the lives of the people,” responded Ramaphosa.

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