The Democratic Alliance has accused Finance Minister Tito Mboweni of misleading South Africans when he gave an assurance two weeks ago that the country would meet the deadline to pay the R500 million required to join the Covax vaccine scheme.
Covax is a global mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. The first deadline for payment – which South Africa missed – was on October 9.
Two weeks ago, Mboweni assured Parliament during the adoption of the Budget that the second deadline to take part in Covax is December 15 and that government would make the payment before then.
However, that deadline also passed without the payment being made, putting the country’s chances of securing the Covid-19 vaccine in jeopardy.
The country is currently experiencing a second wave of coronavirus infections and already the number of new cases reported daily is climbing at an alarming rate. Experts have warned that this second wave will be worse than the initial outbreak.
DA Shadow Minister of Finance Geordin Hill-Lewis said on Thursday that Mboweni needs to explain to the country when government will make the Covax payment and when it will provide the guarantees for the remainder of the amount owing.
“The opacity from the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health, and indeed from the President, must now end. South Africa needs a full explanation, with all information on the table, and a clear plan and timeline for the Covax rollout. Nothing less than full transparency will suffice,” he said.
South Africa is part of a group of middle-income countries that were to receive the vaccine. A number of wealthy countries, including the United States, United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, have already started rolling out the vaccine.