South Africa


Ace still off the hook; Ramaphosa fails to outline detailed vaccine plan

March 02.2019. Ace Magashule, President Cyril Ramaphosa and Paul Mashatile at the ANC's manifesto in Rustenburg North West. Photo: TEBOGO LETSIE (GALLO)

But the ANC will start a national campaign to deal with vaccine hesitancy and vaccine misinformation.

The ANC failed to outline a detailed vaccine plan after a three-day lekgotla which set its priorities for the year. 

And it appears that the National Executive Committee (NEC) did not discuss the Integrity Commission finding made in December 2020 that it should instruct Secretary-General Ace Magashule to step aside. Magashule is due back in court in February on corruption and other charges.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said, “Many people are looking to this lekgotla to provide direction on the actions we must now take to rebuild our economy and our society”, but then failed to rise to the occasion.

The lekgotla statement mentions a vaccine twice, but provides no further details of an inoculation timetable, financing or how South Africa will fill the promise of 40 million jabs that Ramaphosa made this month. The first mention was: “This lekgotla has placed the defeat of Covid-19 as our overriding and most pressing responsibility for 2021, which requires both an intensive vaccination programme…”.  

He did not outline the details of an intensive vaccination programme. The government’s strategy has been characterised by heat and opacity, not light and transparency, since the president and the Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, unveiled it early in January.  The vaccine is widely regarded as the only way to end the pandemic substantively. 

Ramaphosa’s second mention of a vaccine was that South Africa had to develop its own vaccine manufacturing capacity to create African solutions to African problems. Biovac, the partially public-owned company that will distribute the first tranche of vaccines, took 16 years to manufacture a six-in-one paediatric vaccine launched last year.  

One positive development is that the ANC and its Tripartite Alliance partners will mount a national and nooks-and-crannies campaign to counter vaccine hesitancy and vaccine misinformation. Surveys have shown that vaccine hesitancy is significant and the Sunday Times reported on January 25 that health workers are also nervous.  Some churches are stoking fear about vaccines as did Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng last year. ANC leaders have spread vaccine misinformation too.     

“We need to build broad acceptance among our people of the vaccine programme and to tackle misinformation and misunderstanding vigorously. To do this, we must ourselves be disciplined in our own public pronouncements, ensuring that we speak accurately and clearly.”  

Magashule did not step aside at the lekgotla, and it is not clear if the guidelines the NEC has drawn up were put on the table. 

Magashule is said to be gearing for a legal fight if he is made to step aside. This is despite an ANC resolution, reaffirmed at its Nasrec conference in 2017, that any member charged with corruption should step aside from leadership positions until they are cleared. The resolution is said to be at odds with parts of SA’s labour laws, Parliament’s, and even with the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of association. 

Other notable decisions of the NEC lekgotla:

  • The government will consider extending the Covid relief grant, which expires at the end of January, but Ramaphosa said this depended on state finances. The Covid grant needs an “exit strategy”, he said.
  • The National Loan Guarantee Scheme by which the state guarantees bank loans or payment relief to businesses must be “fundamentally restructured to improve its accessibility and should enable the participation of non-bank SMME funders”. The scheme has largely failed to reach those businesses it targeted.
  • The government will convene an economic summit to look at the Covid-19 impact on poverty, equality and unemployment. It will also hold a workshop on climate change.
  • Cheaper broadband is still a long way off. The ANC is still debating the “correct configuration of public and private participation in this sector”.  It has toughened the black empowerment criteria for participation in the spectrum auctions.
  • To speedily pass the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution, which allows for land expropriation without compensation. The ANC said: “Land redistribution must be expedited. Land in the hands of government must be released.”
  • An ANC Electoral Committee will be established to select candidates for the local government election this year.
  • The party will act against unequal pay for work of equal value by women.

The lekgotla outcome was fragmented and disjointed, but that may be because the party buried a beloved cadre in the midst of its meeting, Cabinet Minister Jackson Mthembu, the most senior ANC leader to succumb to Covid-19. DM


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All Comments 37

  • I wonder if the excuses for non-delivery, or even the ability to come to a final decision, are drafted at the same time as the resolutions. It would save a lot of time if they gave the excuses now.

  • Will Covid be added to the endless list of failures over the last 25 years at a cost of thousands of deaths and a devastated economy

    All we get is the refrain “Get a Life” Lindiwe Zulu

    Remember that just 25 years ago:
    – We had specialist entities like USCO that made sophisticated steel used for example in gun barrels;
    – We were leaders in oil from coal;
    – We were the only producer of steel in Africa at Iscor;
    – We made copper cables at African Cables;
    – There was more energy concentration in a 100 Sq km area in Vereeniging than in any other African country’s entire energy usage per hour
    – Samancor produced specialist alloy feedstock and Stewart’s and Lloyd’s manufactured a range of sophisticated products of great precision like pumps
    – Dorbyl fabricated heavy engineering components;
    – On the military side we were nuclear capable and on the threshold of weaponizing nuclear warheads exactly like North Korea is doing today.
    All of this was possible – and I am not saying it was good or bad to be nuclear capable – only because we had sophisticated technical capacity.
    In two decades that world class capacity has been lost and raw sewage now floods the basements of buildings.
    The collapse has been total and rapid.
    The epicenter of the most concentrated form of primary production on the African continent has been wiped out with one sweep.
    The country that pioneered heart transplants now breeds new pathogens that are likely to create a health catastrophe of unprecedented proportions.
    This speaks to the inability of a liberation movement to govern.
    This is a shocking truth that few want to admit.
    The army that just 25 years ago produced the most sophisticated artillery, and which was at a stage considered the most advanced military force in the world after Israel and which saw the creation of an attack helicopter equal to the Apache, is now retreating from Emfuleni unable to execute the mission given to it last year.”
    Cry the beloved country.

    • Yesterday was another country ! The prospects for tomorrow are dystopian, I am afraid.
      The thinnest book in the world: ” The combined book of Post-colonial African success stories and Egyptian war heroes”.

    • And then The Press and various $%^&* commentators trash the democratic opposition. Well done people! Complain about the anc and then trash the ONLY OPTION! Congrats! It is time to get into gear!

      • I left out a very vital part when I posted my comment
        The credit for the greater part of my comment goes to Dr Anthony Turtons
        But I think he really summed it up very well
        Now the have another Employment Equity Amendment Bill.
        And then Ramaphosa says
        “That in my view will be the game changer. Sometimes we talk in broad terms about the economy, we now need to go deeper into exactly what makes the economy works and function, etc etc
        But what we really need for empowerment is an education system that works: Colleges for education and the police as well as Technikons for skills training

  • Talk shops, meetings, committees, commissions, plans, promises – and absolutely no action. The fallback plan is inertia. The destiny is self destruction.

  • In spite of its failures, the masses will still vote for the ANC. That is mainly due to the fact that more than 50% South Africa’s population are ONLY exposed to SABC vernacular TV and radio stations as a source of news. And these media channels certainly don’t carry negative news items of the ANC in the same way you will find on other main stream news media like DM, News 24, and other online or print media, which only broadcast or publish in English, and Afrikaans to a limited extend. The end result….the ANC is really the only choice to millions, regardless of their performance. Few Blacks communicate with each other in English in normal day-to-day communication. An astonishing high percentage can not read or even speak English. So the fact is, media like DM, News 24, SABC TV2, SAFM, and RSG are consumed by a small percentage of the population compared to say SABC TV 1, and the vernacular radio stations like Radio Zulu (or Ukhozi FM). And these SABC news broadcasts are really very limited and seldom political in nature

    • Quite right and guess who actually pays for the SABC ? Yes, you got it, those of us who don’t listen to it, or watch it. From the ANC’s point of view this is perfect. Get your ‘enemy’ to pay for your propaganda. George Orwell would be very impressed…. but not surprised.

  • More failure, inertia, ineptitude on a massive scale! This party are experts on generating so much hot air and much ado about nothing. As CJ Grobler has mentioned, all we do is go backwards as a country. As for Magashule – it is disgusting and disgraceful beyond words that this most odious and deceitful of characters – a swindler par excellence – is still part of the top six and the NEC as are a lot of his cronies, in parliament too.

  • As flawed as he may be, our president is the best of the bunch in the ANC top structure. Not good or strong enough though to get his way in the lekgotlas

  • So basically, the 3 day lekgotla produced absolutely nothing.
    Basically the view of the Government is that any road will get you there if you have no idea where you are going.

  • The ANC is paralyzed by the countless divisions within not only the NEC, but also the wider ANC structures. The Covid-19 pandemic and resultant impact on the economy, which was failing before the ravages of the pandemic exacerbated the situation, shone a spotlight on the incompetence of most ministers and their mob of deputies and lackeys. This failure of leadership, coupled with a bloated, inept and dysfunctional public service does not augur well for the prosperity and racial harmony so desperately needed in South Africa.

    Unless the leadership of the ANC shows itself willing and able to take the difficult actions necessary to combat corruption and incompetence (and so far there is no indication that they are either willing or able to take action), the country faces the frightening prospect of civil unrest and likely disinvestment which would further aggravate an already volatile situation. Cyril Ramaphosa faces the daunting task of choosing between party and country. He is on record as saying that he would not do anything to cause a split in the ANC. If he remains true to his word, he would be sacrificing the country his party fought so hard to liberate!

  • At a media briefing where he took questions for more than hour, Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Ace Magashule had been instructed by the ANC to stand down until cleared of all charges of corruption.
    Ramaphosa also outlined, in some detail, the COVID vaccination roll out plans that the government had agreed with health services and the private sector. Implementation has already commenced.
    Then I woke up and read (most of) Ferial Haffajee’s article – and realised where I was. In South Africa.

    • CJ Grobler has it dead right in his comments. It saddens and frutrates us all to see what we have become (from such greatness) and Ramaphosa continues to sit on his hands as he did whilst he was VP and now as President and leader of the ANC. Unfortunately he will be remembered for achieving nothing, yet we hoped for so much.

  • It is undeniable that the ANC have run SA into the ground over the last 25 years and will continue doing so until they are voted out of power, which is unlikely to happen until we have a largely educated population. Which is also unlikely to happen anytime soon.

    They will never move against their own, as if they do they will all be exposed for their own role in state capture. I mean, Ramaphosa was Zuma’s deputy, do you really think he didn’t know what was going on?

  • Typical soviet-era rhetoric – heavy on manifestos, promises and report generation, but extremely light on actual delivery and progress! These pathetic people are still way behind the iron curtain, or maybe in this case a red one!

  • The Western Cape Premier , Alan Winde , seems to be the only governmental agent actively trying to speedily procure vaccines – all kudos to him! The ANC talks endlessly on and on without any positive action – time has run out ! Get up and DO something!

  • Honestly all of this is irrelevant bluster. A crucial moment will be when Ace is on trial and sent down. We will see after that if the balance of power has shifted enough in the NEC for the reformists to push ahead with sanity. I have my doubts however seeing as it will be the much same ANC voting for the next Secretary General. Can someone tell me: I’ve read the trial will be in Feb but is this the actual trial where conviction happens or is it some kind of pre-trial like what happened with Zumba?

  • “will consider extending the Covid relief grant”
    “must be “fundamentally restructured to improve its accessibility…..””
    “convene an economic summit” and “hold a workshop on climate change”
    “The ANC is still debating”

    I fail to see how any of these “decisions” are “notable” as in “Other notable decisions of the NEC lekgotla” — they’re all more of the usual bla-bla-bla, lots of talk and no action