President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the State of the Nation Address on Thursday under immense pressure to salvage the vaccine procurement process.

Already South Africa’s biggest labour federation Cosatu wants the President to take responsibility for what it calls the mess government finds itself in with AstraZeneca vaccine. The government procured a vaccine that expires in April and is yet to even begin vaccinating frontline workers.

The General Secretary of Cosatu, Bheki Ntshalintshali says the federation wants clear and concrete plans from the government on securing vaccines for coronavirus.

“For one, it’s going to be a wasteful expenditure. We are going to be told it’s no longer valid, it must be thrown away. It’s dangerous and must be thrown away and money will be lost. The scientists, the Minister of Health, and the President must take responsibility.”

Ntshalintshali goes further to say that scientists and those who procured the vaccine found to be weak against the variant found in South African must account.

“He is the captain. If anything is happening in the field of the flight, the captain takes responsibility. He has to do some consequence management. People have to account for why it is happening in this way when they were procuring the vaccine. They needed to know the expiry date when they were procuring the vaccine.”

‘Western vaccines’

The communists lambasted the government for being too slow in the procurement of vaccines and only focusing on Western Vaccines.

SACP’s 1st Deputy General Secretary Solly Mapaila says, “The procurement of vaccines shouldn’t only focus on the procurement of Western vaccines, we must also look at Sputnik V, the Russian vaccine. The journal for vaccine is saying it’s now okay and can go up to 90% efficiency. We must look at the procurement of Sputnik V because it’s available but the South African government is too slow. We must also look at the nine Chinese vaccines and not only be controlled at procuring Western vaccines.”

Saftu and Fedusa’s expectations:

Job creation

SAFTU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says SONA must focus on job creation.

“We’re calling on our government to increase cooperate tax that we have been driving down to 28%. We’re asking the government to take steps to stop illicit money flows.”

The governing party says the President must ensure energy security is of paramount importance in order to create jobs and stimulating the economy.

ANC’s Spokesperson Pule Mabe says “We need energy security to be able to know that we boost the production and manufacturing. The mining sector is the biggest employer and new estates are coming up and all of that. We need to give people energy security so that we address all of these challenges that we face.”

President Ramaphosa will deliver SONA in different circumstances with only 50 Parliamentarians in the Chambers and others participating virtually due to the coronavirus.

Furor over AstraZeneca vaccine

Some South Africans are demanding answers regarding the furor surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“The intray for what President Ramaphosa should prioritise in his State of the Nation Address on Thursday is piling up. We small business amongst the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, some have had to shut their doors, the lucky ones who have managed to stay afloat say they’d like to hear something tangible on how the government will assist them to recover.”

There are also calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to outline solutions to the jobs blood bath exacerbated by the coronavirus.

Florist, Mbali Nkabinde of Izimbali by Mbali is one of them. She had been operating online since 2018, but occupied her shop in October last year, slap bang in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis.

Even plans to expand her business have been put on ice. But, with Valentine’s Day approaching, she is hoping that business will boom, just this once in a long time.

The live events industry has also been reeling. Kagiso Moima WA Masimini says he has had to dismiss 28 permanent staff members.

And soon he will be marking 11 months of struggle. This despite marching to Pretoria asking for help.

Wa Masimini and his industry mate Mandla Ngwenya say they don’t have any hope in the President’s upcoming address.

SABC’s Chriselda Lewis and Cameraman Thulo Monare visited reeling small businesses ahead of Thursday’s State of the Nation Address:

-Additional reporting by Chriselda Lewis