President Cyril Ramaphosa says despite several challenges that have delayed the vaccine roll-out, the public vaccination drive is now gathering pace and one million South Africans have been vaccinated so far.
The President said this when he led the debate on The Presidency budget vote on Wednesday.
“Within the last 48 hours, we passed a significant milestone. More than one million people in South Africa have now received a vaccine dose.
“As we accelerate the roll-out of vaccines, we continue to engage various manufacturers to ensure a reliable and diverse supply of vaccines.
“We therefore welcome the news that the World Health Organisation has validated the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use,” he said.
The President said this is a crucial step that should allow the country’s own health products regulatory authority, SAHPRA, to expeditiously consider the application from Sinovac.
“As a country and as a government, we have therefore been involved in efforts across Africa and in the broader international community to forge a common response.
“During our chairship of the African Union, we led the development and implementation of a continent-wide COVID-19 strategy.
“We appointed special envoys to mobilise funding for the continental response, and actively lobbied the G20, the international financial institutions and other international bodies for comprehensive financial support and debt relief for African countries.”
R1 billion allocated towards the Presidential Employment Stimulus
The President used his speech to respond to the results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, which was released yesterday for the first quarter of 2021 demonstrating the severe impact that the pandemic has had on employment.
He said the rising number of the unemployed, those who are actively searching for work but cannot find it, represent real people in every part of the country.
“They include too many of the 18 million young men and women across the country, who make up nearly a third of our population.
“In our villages, towns and cities, young people are a dynamic force propelling themselves and their communities forward, even in the midst of hardship and numerous obstacles.
“To ensure that these young people are empowered and equipped with the tools to succeed, we have located the coordination of our efforts to address youth employment in the Presidency,” he said.
Eight months ago, The Presidency launched the Presidential Employment Stimulus, the largest and fastest scale-up of public employment in our country’s history.
“Since its inception, this programme has been making a difference in the lives of South Africans across the length and breadth of our country.
“I speak of Samukelisiwe Linda from KwaZulu-Natal, who was retrenched when the pandemic struck last year, but is now employed by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure in the Welisizwe Rural Bridges Programme.
“I speak of Noluthando Mpondo from the Free State, who was unemployed for four years before she joined a WhatsApp group with other young people who were looking for work and found out about the Presidential Employment Stimulus.
“She found employment through the stimulus as a primary school teaching assistant and is using her income to support her mother, younger sister and cousins.”
The President said to date, the Presidential Employment Stimulus has supported nearly 700 000 opportunities.
“Of these, 422 000 are jobs that have been created or retained, 110 000 are awards issued for livelihoods support, and a further 162 000 are opportunities where awards are currently in process.
“We have developed an online dashboard where South Africans can track progress in the implementation of the stimulus, pioneering a new approach to transparency and accountability.
“The stimulus has played a crucial role in supporting vulnerable households to keep working and earning an income, while at the same time benefitting the communities in which they work.
“It has incubated new approaches to coordination and collaboration across government to achieve a single objective, demonstrating the powerful results of a whole-of-government approach.
“A further R11 billion has been allocated for the continuation of the Presidential Employment Stimulus in the current financial year.”