National Assembly Deputy Speaker, Lechesa Tsenoli, has urged Members of Parliament who are over the age of 60 to register to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the second phase of the country’s rollout programme, which starts on Monday.

Authorities hope for mass vaccination of people over the age of 60 and other vulnerable groups phase 2 of vaccinations.  Tsenoli is one of the Members of Parliament who are over 60 and has registered to be vaccinated.

He is urging his colleagues to do the same if they have not done so. Tsenoli says public representatives have to play a crucial role in the fight against COVID-19.

“Members of Parliament, this is a reminder, if you are over 60, (or) recently  60 years old and those who have gone past 60 years a long time ago, please do not forget to register. It’s important. You are the connector. The one who interfaces with people in your communities, around the country, including also often around the world. Let’s reduce the possibility of being harmed by the coronavirus, so that we are able to be present in the frontlines of campaigning against this disease but also most importantly in the frontlines of fighting against poverty, unemployment and inequality,” he says.

Tsenoli says public representatives across the political spectrum have to lead by example in participating in the vaccination campaign and to encourage other members of society to do the same.

“All of us we need you across all political parties to be doing this important work. It is important for reasons that because of this interface, our interactions including amongst ourselves, we reduce the possibility of us getting the virus. And if it does (if we get the virus),- to reduce the possibility of it being severe and or killing us. Let us take action, it’s important. We are public representatives. We must always be exemplary and inform those who are in our communities, in our neighbourhood, in our municipalities, in our provinces to do the same. The campaign to combat this virus and its negative effects is critical to our recovery and reconstruction of our country in the interest of the people.”

The DA says its 23 elderly Members of Parliament will be ready, while COPE Spokesperson Dennis Bloem explains the importance of MPs being at the forefront of the programme.

“Members of Parliament must show leadership in the fight against COVID-19. It is very important that Members of Parliament be at the forefront of the COVID-19 vaccinations programme. We are aware that a huge number of MPs are over the age of 60 years and therefore in the danger zone of this vicious enemy COVID-19. We are encouraging all MPs to take the COVID-19 vaccine. This will also instill the confidence and trust within their constituencies,” says Bloem.

Earlier, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said phase 2 of the vaccination programme will target 130 sites for the public sector. They will all be active by the end of the week, while the private sector sites will open later during the same week.

He says R9 billion has been allocated for the department’s fight against the virus.

Department of Health officials presents the vaccination roll-out plan to Members of Parliament: 

Surge in new cases 

The mass vaccination campaign comes at a time when some provinces have already seen a surge in new COVID-19 infections.

The Northern Cape has shown a 68 % increase in new COVID-19 infections in the last seven-day reporting period, while Gauteng has seen a  63 % increase in new infections.

The Western Cape is also experiencing a resurgence in cases: 

The National Health Department has advised people to continue wearing their masks, practice social distancing and regular hand washing. People are also advised to avoid areas with poor ventilation and to avoid large crowds.