Deputy President David Mabuza says traditional leaders and faith-based leaders will play a crucial role in the roll out of government’s large-scale COVID-19 vaccination programme.
The Deputy President said this when he fielded oral questions in the National Council of Provinces on Thursday.
“Traditional leaders and faith-based leaders have committed to ensuring that they lead from the front by taking the vaccine jabs when the opportunity comes, as a way of demystifying some of the myths and misinformation about our vaccines.
“We will continue to engage with all local structures, including traditional leaders and faith-based leaders, to ensure the broad-based participation and sharing of information about the benefits of vaccination,” he said.
Addressing MPs on Thursday, Mabuza said there is a comprehensive geo-mapping of all facilities and vaccination sites that will ensure equitable access to vaccines by everyone irrespective of where they live.
The phases of the plan provides a clear categorisation and prioritisation of various population groups to be targeted over the period of the vaccination process until the country achieves the required population immunity threshold.
“More importantly, the vaccination roll out plan has been tailored to ensure that all population in urban and rural areas will have equal access to vaccines by offering different service delivery platforms.”
He said the guiding principle of government’s vaccination programme places emphasis on the moral responsibility to ensure allocation of vaccines impartially and in accordance with a fair criteria.
“In the vaccination roll out, we are cognisant of the critical role that traditional and faith-based leaders need to play in addressing community’s fears and misinformation about the benefits of vaccines.
“Our approach to structured engagements with traditional leaders and faith-based leaders has in the main been focused on sharing information and raising awareness about the benefits of vaccination to protect communities about the spread of the deadly COVID-19 disease,” he said.
Deputy President Mabuza said it is common cause that social partners are key to the effective coordination and efficient implementation of the country’s COVID-19 vaccination programme – in the same way as they have been key in the national response to the pandemic in the past year.
“Since the declaration of the State of the National Disaster by the President on the 15th of March 2020, government has been working closely with all leaders across society towards ensuring effective coordination and efficient implementation of the COVID-19 response plan.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, government held a number of engagements with social partners, including Nedlac, interfaith leaders, traditional leaders as well as leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament.
“We are encouraged by the wealth of advice we received from traditional leaders on how best to respond to this pandemic in rural communities.”