DA gives MEC 24 hours to explain reasons for apparently blocking Covid-19 vaccinations

Issued by Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Health
17 Feb 2021 in Press Statements

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is giving KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, 24 hours to provide answers after having been made aware of an instruction she gave that healthcare workers should not be vaccinated.

The MEC’s shocking instruction was made on a Albert Luthuli Hospital Covid-19 Vaccine WhatsApp group, where she ordered that vaccinations of some 40 healthcare workers, scheduled to take place at the hospital earlier today, be stopped.

Albert Luthuli and Prince Mshiyeni are the two hospitals in the province where the roll-out of vaccines for healthcare workers is due to commence this week.

The DA is deeply concerned by this instruction. While it seems that the team are ready to begin vaccinating immediately, with the vaccinations having arrived and 40 doses already defrosting and waiting to go into arms – the MEC has put a stop to it.

It is difficult to comprehend why she would make such a move, particularly when she already knows that KZN’s healthcare workers are amongst the worst affected groups when it comes to Covid-19 in our country. And when she knows that they have already had to endure many months of often traumatic conditions – a situation only aggravated by her and her Department’s shortcomings. Many healthcare workers have been infected and many have died.

The DA can only assume that the reason the MEC stopped the vaccinations is because she wanted to be there today. The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature is currently conducting school functionality oversight inspections.  Traditionally, MECs join these oversight visits as district champions. That she would place her own ego above the lives of 40 healthcare workers, beggars belief.

There can be no good reason for the delay of even a single vaccine and the DA calls on the team at Albert Luthuli Hospital to defy the MEC’s instruction and to continue with the vaccinations. It is the right thing to do.

In addition, we call on the MEC to either confirm or deny her instruction – as per the WhatsApp group post – within the next 24 hours. In the event that the she does not respond within 24 hours, the DA will write to Premier Sihle Zikalala and request that he institute a full enquiry into MEC Simelane-Zulu’s fitness to hold office.