A protest by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party to demand a speedy provision of vaccines to all citizens is under way outside the South African Health Production Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) in Pretoria.
According to News24, police spokesperson Colonel Brenda Muridili said police did not take action against the large group of protesters on Friday because they wanted to avoid a chaotic situation.
Instead, they will open a criminal case against the convenor for the alleged contravention of Disaster Management Act regulations, Muridili said.
The EFF is marching under the banner of “March to Save Lives”, as it demands that Sahpra speeds up the approval of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and the Chinese Sinovac manufactured Coronavac vaccine.
Our people are gathering at Maupanaga Park.
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) June 25, 2021
The EFF leader Julius Malema said this week that his party will give the health regulator seven days to give Sinovac and Sputnik V the green light for emergency use in the country.
He said if Sahpra failed to do so, the party would stage a sit-in outside the house of Sahpra’s CEO.
“It is now evident that the South African government is dismally failing to provide vaccines to all South Africans and this is enabled by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, which is refusing to authorise the usage of vaccines,” the EFF said in a statement.
EFF Calls On All People To Join The March To Demand Vaccines Tomorrow, Friday 25 June 2021 pic.twitter.com/7HPRi5RTz1
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) June 24, 2021
Sahpra, in turn, has remained steadfast that science will lead the way.
“We make decisions based on the science behind every vaccine. We go through detailed reviews. We are evaluating Sinovac and Sinopharm.
“We are really busy as an organisation and we will concern ourselves with the science,” Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela, Sahpra CEO on Thursday said in response to the EFF’s demands, according to IOL
Sahpra had indicated in February that it was reviewing applications linked to the Sinovac and Sputnik vaccines.
The EFF has for a while called on the government to procure these two vaccines.
It has also been critical of the government’s handling of the vaccination programme saying more diverse vaccines should be procured.
Earlier this week Malema said President Cyril Ramaphosa could not continue imposing lockdowns but should instead be providing vaccines.
Malema claimed that Ramaphosa was planning to move the country back to Level 5 of Covid-19 lockdown for 21 days.
He said this during an interview with the broadcasting television channel, Newzroom Afrika.
“The man is looking at taking us back to level 5 for 21 days. That is what he is considering. [David] Makhura has no power to take the province anywhere in terms of regulations. It is the president himself.
“He wants to lock us up again for 21 days in level 5. We’re not going back there,” said Malema.
South Africa was currently battling the third wave of Covid-19 infections, with numbers steadily surging in recent weeks.
The country moved to level 3 lockdown on Tuesday last week, introducing further restrictions around gatherings, the sale of alcohol and a tighter curfew.
Compiled by Betha Madhomu