• President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation had a heavy political undertone, when he sent a veiled message to EFF leader Julius Malema.
  • Ramaphosa defended the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority, which has come under fire from the EFF.
  • The red berets want the authority to approve Covid-19 vaccines from China and Russia.

President Cyril Ramaphosa had a veiled message for EFF leader Julius Malema when he came to the defence of the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), which has been under pressure from the red berets to approve Covid-19 vaccines from China and Russia.
In his address to the nation on Sunday night, Ramaphosa announced a litany of Covid-19 lockdown regulations as he moved South Africa to an adjusted Alert Level 4 lockdown, from Monday until 11 July.
Part of his address had a heavy political undertone, when he defended the independence of the Sahpra.
READ | IN FULL: ‘We’re in the grip of a devastating wave’ – Ramaphosa’s dire warning as SA moves to Level 4
“Throughout this pandemic, our national response has been led by dedicated medical professionals, healthcare workers and scientists. We owe them all a debt of gratitude for their professionalism and their dedication. It is therefore extremely distressing when political leaders launch personal attacks against such people for doing the job they have been assigned to do,” the president said.
He added:
We must remember that Sahpra is an independent regulator that focuses only on scientific evidence to ensure safety, quality and efficacy in the interest of public health. Sahpra must be allowed to do its job without intimidation or political influence so that when vaccines are approved, the public can be confident that the vaccines are safe, of good quality and will work.
The EFF has been hammering the government to approve the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia and the Sinovac jab from China. They have demanded that Sahpra’s board chairperson be removed with immediate effect.
But Sahpra CEO, Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela, made it abundantly clear the health body would do its job without being “influenced or swayed” by anybody or anything, except science.
Last week, the EFF’s patience ran out and on Friday, thousands of members marched to the Sahpra offices in Pretoria to demand that the drug regulator authorise the use of the jabs. Marchers did not practise social distancing, and many protesters were not wearing masks.
READ | Lockdown: Ramaphosa places the country under alert Level 4
On Sunday night EFF leader Julius Malema tweeted: “When they want to hypnotise us, they use Mandela name.”
In a statement, the party said: “The EFF will therefore not comply to the dictates of Ramaphosa and will continue with our political programmes and mobilisation because as things stand, there are by-elections on the 30th of June and local government elections on 27 October.”
The statement continued: 
We will not allow dictatorial lockdowns of Ramaphosa to prevent us from preparing our branches, members and we will not stop in convincing as many people as possible that the current government must be removed from power.
DA leader John Steenhuisen said the blame for impending job losses should be placed at the door of Ramaphosa.
“South Africans are being battered by the third wave with less than 1% of the population fully vaccinated. Not one single Covax vaccine has been administered. To think Ramaphosa was planning to rely solely on Covax vaccines. Ramaphosa and his government have had a year to secure an adequate supply of vaccines to protect South African lives and livelihoods from this virus – a year to plan a speedy, efficient rollout programme,” he said.
READ HERE | Sahpra ‘should not be forced to bow to political pressure’ – acting health minister
Steenhuisen said having spent 15 months in various levels of lockdown, South Africans should at least be able to expect universal access to life-saving medical treatment.
“But he and his government have failed to build healthcare capacity to be able to accommodate all in need, and failed to build track and trace capacity to isolate the virus and break chains of transmission,” he said.
In a statement, Cosatu national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said businesses that were negatively affected needed relief.
He said:
This relief needs to come from not only the Unemployment Insurance Fund, but also in the form of tax and rates holidays, loan and premium payment holidays from bank and insurance companies. Failure to provide relief is to condemn workers to job and wage losses, and businesses to total collapse. The South African government and the financial sector must do more to provide solidarity to workers and the economy.
The FF Plus said the ANC-led government should take responsibility for increased Covid-19 infections.

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