The South African Council of Churches (SACC) is calling on more religious leaders over the age of 60 to lead by example and get vaccinated against COVID-19.
SACC Secretary General Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana says the second phase of the vaccination programme could save more than 40 000 thousand lives of citizens over the age of 60 in the next few months.
Bishop Mpumlwana, SACC Second Vice President Frank Chikane, and Grace Bible Church Bishop Mosa Sono were among the council leaders who took their vaccine doses publicly at Esangweni Community Health Care Centre in Tembisa on Monday.
Mpumlwana says the council is happy that the second phase has begun and urges South Africans to register and be vaccinated to build the national population immunity.
“Over 60–year–old leaders of the churches everywhere should be leading by example to ensure the campaigning to save lives succeed. Many leaders have in different provinces taken the vaccine today (Monday) and we look forward to having more as the week rolls out.”
He says, “We have a major challenge in that there are about five million people over 60 years. You know we also know that 60% of all those people who die are in this age group. 36% of those who get hospitalised and heavily sick are in this age group. So, if we participate in ensuring their registration and vaccination, we could save as much as 40 000 lives over the next two to three months.”
“And so, let’s make sure that come the end of July, every one of those five million people have been vaccinated. And then we begin to ease up and this will help ease up and free our economy and get more jobs functioning. This is urgent. It is about saving lives.”
“We are most grateful for the gift of science that makes this possible. We love science when it does technology for us. We love science when it gets good food for us, but we also love science when it makes it possible for us to save lives, even during COVID times,” adds Bishop Mpumlwana.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize outlines Phase Two vaccination rollout:
Qualifying MPs urged to vaccinate
Parliament’s Health Committee Chairperson Sibongiseni Dhlomo says it’s important that MPs who qualify to be vaccinated in the second phase of the rollout programme to demonstrate leadership and take the vaccine publicly.
He says they will instill confidence in the public.
Dhlomo says religious and traditional leaders have also been encouraged to take their vaccines publicly.
His remarks come as African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader Kenneth Meshoe and Pieter Groenewald from the Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) have indicated that they will not be vaccinated.
Meshoe says he will not break family tradition by taking vaccines.
Groenewald says it should be freedom of choice, adding that he had serious side effects in the past after taking the flu vaccine.
In the audio below, ACDP and FF-PLUS leaders explain why they will not take COVID-19 vaccines:
Load shedding disruptions
Meanwhile, as the second phase of the vaccine rollout campaign began, load shedding also kicked in.
The Congress of the People (COPE) has criticised Eskom for implementing load shedding, saying it’s disruptive at a critical time in the fight against COVID-19.
COPE Spokesperson Dennis Bloem says government needs to intervene.
“Load shedding is destructive and totally disruptive. The country can’t have load shedding during this critical time of COVID-19 when health facilities, hospitals and clinics need electricity more than ever before.”
“We cannot have load shedding when the second phase of COVID-19 rollout starts today. This is totally unacceptable that the lives of people are being put in danger, because of this constant load shedding. We are calling upon government to address the problems at Eskom to save the lives of people and the economy,” says Bloem.