NATIONAL NEWS - The EFF on Thursday called for the immediate closure of contact classes at schools amid concerns over the third wave of coronavirus infections in South Africa.
“There is no reason to force contact learning because already there are rising infections among young people and children which are disrupting schools. To ensure a fast move beyond the third wave, schools must be closed,” EFF leader Julius Malema said.
He was speaking at a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Malema gave Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga seven days to close schools or the party would shut schools themselves.
‘We have become a joke’
Malema took a swipe at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government for its slow pace of administering Covid-19 vaccines.
He said Zimbabwe was leading southern Africa with its vaccine rollout while SA is lagging behind.
Malema said South Africans were crossing the border to get vaccinated in Zimbabwe for a fee.
“People are being vaccinated in Zimbabwe, I’m also considering to go to Zimbabwe to get my vaccination because here according to the line up, they will give you a vaccine in the grave. We are going to die before we are vaccinated,” he said.
Zimbabwe has authorised the use of four Covid-19 vaccines, China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines, Russia’s Sputnik V and Covaxin from India.
With four provinces already battling the third wave of Covid infections, Malema said the government was risking the lives of South Africans while the ANC and President Cycril Ramaphosa were “totally unable” to lead a sustained response to Covid-19 and the rollout of vaccines.
No other generation has witnessed so much death and sickness than our own. The pandemic is taking breadwinners, shutting down businesses, increasing unemployment and interrupting schooling.
The EFF leader said there was no chance that South Africa would see the rollout of vaccines to reach the government’s expected population immunity by end of 2021.
“The majority of frontline workers, particularly those who were working under level 5 lockdown like the police, security guards, taxi and bus drivers, petrol attendants, retail workers and cleaners have not been vaccinated,” he said.
The country has been vaccinating people 60 years and older using the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine while it waits for the green light from US regulators before it can start administering the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine.
Sputnik V and Sinovac vaccine
Malema also criticised the government for not procuring the Sputnik V and Sinovac vaccines.
He said more than 60 countries were using the vaccines and accused Ramaphosa of prioritising profits and money over the lives of South Africans.
“The desperation to only use Western produced vaccines to the exclusion of the Chinese and Russian vaccines has resulted in countless delays of purchases from J&J,” Malema said.
On Wednesday, South Africa recorded a massive spike in Covid-19 infections. The total number of infections stood at 1,712,939, with 8,881 new cases identified.
There are 66,128 active cases in the country, according to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases.
In addition, 127 Covid-19 related deaths were reported, which brings the total number of Covid-19 related deaths in South Africa to 57,310.