The chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation, Tandi Mahambehlala, says the arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from India signifies the success of South Africa’s approach to bilateral and multilateral relations.
“We congratulate the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, through its missions abroad, for their candid vaccine diplomacy. This has been demonstrated through its successful initiation of negotiations, which secured the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines for South Africa,” Mahambehlala said on Tuesday.
Mahambehlala said the arrival of the vaccines is significant and testament to the success of South Africa’s diplomatic relations.
“The importance of diplomacy has once again been proved and is apparent for all to see during this era of the pandemic. The country, under the capable stewardship of President Cyril Ramaphosa, should work hard to enhance bilateral and multilateral relations with countries and multinational pharmaceutical companies that have shown capability in manufacturing vaccines.”
On Monday, President Ramaphosa led a government delegation to welcome the arrival of the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines from the Serum Institute of India. The vaccine has undergone successfully trials at Oxford University, with South Africa’s scientists making valuable contributions.
Mahambehlala extended gratitude to the friendly government of India, calling the country a “true friend in need and a trusted partner in the BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa] formation”.
Mahambehlala said South Africa will continue to play a role in making the vaccine available to neighbouring countries. The African Union, which was chaired by South Africa when the pandemic struck, has worked to ensure that the continent gets its fair share of the vaccine, working with the COVAX Facility and led by the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team.
Mahambehlala expressed her appreciation to President Ramaphosa’s successful chairing of the African Union. SA’s chairship of the AU comes to an end this week.
Cuba commended for immense sacrifice
Mahambehlala applauded the Cabinet decision to endorse and nominate the Cuban Medical Brigade, which is deployed throughout the world, for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
“We thank these gallant heroes and heroines of Cuba for their selfless and unwavering sacrifice to assist the world in the fight against Coronavirus,” Mahambehlala said.
About 200 Cuban doctors are deployed in South Africa to help in the fight against COVID-19.